You may suspect a child is suffering abuse, but you don’t know how to address it. What actions can you take to bring the perpetrator of such USA crime to justice? Child abuse classifies as maltreatment due to violence or threatening a child, and this could mean neglect, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
Step #1: Check for Signs of Abuse
Unfortunately, you may not be the only one who has seen signs of child abuse, but you may be the first to take action against it. Many times, people see the child suffering abuse, but they don’t know how to respond to it. You might speak with the child or even the parents about the abuse if you feel that you can do it safely. In some cases, offering the child a listening ear can go a long way.
Keep in mind, the signs don’t always show themselves as obvious things like a black eye or bruises. Spotting the warning signs could save the child’s life.
Let’s have a look at some of the signs that a child could be suffering abuse:
- Behavioral signs
- Physical signs
- Verbal cues
The child may shrink away from people or feel threatened by physical contact. In some cases, they might refuse to bathe or bathe excessively. They may show signs of regression like sucking their thumb without an identifiable cause. The child may experience frequent nightmares or display age-inappropriate sexual behaviors.
Perhaps the most obvious sign of child abuse, you may see welts, swelling, or bruises. Unexplained broken bones or blood on sheets or undergarments could also be another sign.
You may hear the child use phrases inappropriate for their age. They may become silent without warning or seemingly without reason.
Step #2: Speak with the Child
Talk with the child if you feel concerned about the possibility of abuse. You want to create a non-threatening environment where they will open up. In some cases, the person may have threatened them and scared them into not speaking about it. Be aware of the tone because if you use too serious of a tone, you could scare the child. Avoid saying things that sound judgmental or blame the child, such as statements like, “When you said this, it made me worry…” Don’t say anything that would place the blame on them and cause them to feel shame.
Step #3: Report It and Speak with a Lawyer
Report it to the police to bring the culpable to justice. Speaking with the police also creates a written record of the abuse happening. While they may seem like they’re not doing anything in the beginning, this depends on the agency. You can check back near the end of the week to see what’s happening. You will also want to speak with a lawyer in cases where it was your child and the abuse happened at daycare or another organization. Children have as much—if not, more—the legal right to compensation, and it holds the abusers accountable for their reprehensible actions. You can hold the perpetrator, school, organization, or business that employed them accountable.