Physical Abuse is when a parent, caregiver, or any adult in a position of authority over a child, causes intentional injury or non-accidental trauma to a child. It is the most visible form of child maltreatment, and also one of the more common varieties. Physical abuse of a child could include biting, kicking, punching, slapping, scalding, burning, shaking or shoving.
Statistics show that in many cases, physical abuse is often unintentional, and result from physical discipline that gets out of hand. While a parent's right to physical discipline of their child is protected by the law in Michigan, parents are cautioned to be aware of how much force they use. Adults are considerably stronger than children and can do a great deal of damage if they are not careful.
The Signs of Physical Abuse in Children
Due to the nature of physical abuse, the symptoms usually include a wide range of visible indicators. These can include swelling, lacerations, bruises, bite marks, puncture marks, cigarette burns, broken bones and missing hair. Not all physical abuse, however, leaves a mark. Sometimes injuries are internal and cannot be seen, or are hidden under layers of clothes, or even carefully placed so as to be hidden by a child's everyday clothing.
In addition to the physical signs of this type of abuse, there are often behavioral and psychological signs that indicate a child is being abused. Depression, self harming behaviors, bullying, aggression or withdrawing from playmates and shying away from physical contact are all examples of how physical abuse can manifest in a child's behaviors.
The Effects of Physical Abuse
There have been numerous studies in recent years on the subject of physical abuse and its long-term effects on children. Current belief among the medical and mental health communities is that using violence, even if it is only spanking, can have lasting negative effects.
Lasting negative effects of excessive spanking can include depression, low self esteem, violence toward others, cruelty to animals, substance abuse problems, self harming behaviors, and anger management problems.
Is Spanking considered Child Abuse?
Parents who choose to use corporal punishment are well within their rights in Michigan. However, if you elect to spank your child, you should be aware of the potential difficulties it might cause. In particular, it could become problematic if you become engaged in a custody dispute or a CPS investigation. While corporal punishment is not the same thing as child abuse, it is often brought up in custody disputes, and is frequently considered as a factor when the courts are assigning custody.
CPS officials in Michigan generally disapprove of physical discipline of any sort, including spanking. This is evident when you look at the agreements that foster parents in Michigan are required to sign, agreeing not to use corporal punishment of any kind. Additionally, any parents who find themselves in court defending against an abuse/neglect petition are often instructed by the court not to use physical discipline on their children. Parenting classes, which are mandatory in most of these cases, will stress using alternate forms of discipline, like reinforcing positive behavior while discouraging negative behavior.
According to the American Humane Association, spanking tends to become abusive when a parent or caregiver uses inappropriate or excessive force during the discipline. This is more likely when the adult involved doesn't realize the extent of their own strength while spanking the child.
Consequences of Abusing a Child
Child abuse is against the law in Michigan, which means that anyone who is suspected of child abuse is likely to be investigated. And if that investigation turns up any kind of evidence that there may have been abuse, even if the evidence is unsubstantiated or entirely untrue, the prosecutor may choose to bring charges. CPS, because their standard for evidence is far less stringent than the court's, it is even more likely to file a petition based on unsubstantiated claims and false allegations.
Whether the allegations of abuse are handled by CPS in the family court, or by the police and prosecutor in the criminal court, the results could be devastating. Incarceration and fines, while they are terrible, are not the worst of it. You could lose your children, either temporarily or permanently, depending on what the alleged abuse was. But it doesn't have to be that way.
Abuse and Neglect Defense Attorneys
The attorneys at Kronzek & Cronkright have decades of combined experience in handling abuse and neglect cases in the Michigan courts. Our firm includes both family law attorneys and criminal defense attorneys, which means that whether the investigation was conducted by CPS or the police, we can walk you through every aspect of your case. We can represent you in family court or defend you in a criminal court or both, depending upon what your specific case calls for.
We are well acquainted with the many circumstances that can result in an unexplained injury on your child, and have extensive experience defending parents against false allegations of abuse. So if you or a loved one are facing allegations or charges of abuse, don't wait. Contact us immediately. We can help you.
You owe it to yourself to see what a truly professional law firm can do for you. Contact us. We accept cases in all counties in Michigan, with our principal practice being in the lower peninsula. If you need a good child abuse defense, we can help. Call (866) 346-5879. Contact Us