In the previous article in this series on child abuse myths, we discussed the fact that April is National child abuse month, and while we are well-known defense attorneys who have dedicated our careers to representing falsely accused parents and caregivers, we are also parents who understand that child abuse does happen, and that it is a problem. Moving on, we are going to wrap up this two-part series by discussing the remaining four items on our list.
MYTH: It’s only really abuse if it’s physical and leaves marks.
FACT: According to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 78% of child abuse reports made stem from neglect. Neglect can be summed up as a parent or caregiver’s failure to provide a child’s basic needs.
In this light, not providing food or adequate clothing, not providing necessary medical care when a child needs it, not providing education for a child, and also being inattentive to a child’s emotional and psychological needs would all constitute neglect.
MYTH: Children are usually abused by strangers.
FACT: While Hollywood has certainly played up this angle, making it appear that as long as children are kept safe from strangers they won’t be hurt, it doesn’t reflect an accurate perspective of reality.
Children are actually more likely to be abused by someone they know, rather than by a stranger. And reporting the abuse is often even harder because they fear the repercussions of “tattling” or not being believed.
MYTH: My child would tell me if someone abused them or hurt them.
FACT: The sad fact is that many children do not report abuse. The reasons vary, but it appears that a common explanation is either fear or shame.
It is critically important to teach children at an early age about dangerous or abusive situations, and what to do if they should encounter one. Parents need to reinforce with their children the importance of recognizing abuse, and make sure to be supportive when a child does speak up.
MYTH: I don’t need to get involved, someone else will report it.
FACT: People are often reluctant to get involved in emotionally charged or uncomfortable situations, sometimes for fear that there will be repercussions from the accused, or because they are afraid of making a scene, only to discover that they were wrong.
But recurring child abuse is very often preventable. It just requires that someone take the first step and report it. This year, in the U.S. alone, more than 1,500 children will die because of abuse or neglect. Almost 1,250 of those children will be younger than 4. A little courage and kindness on the part of the communities those children live in, could go a long way towards changing those statistics for the better.
We hope that this information helps shed some light on the very real issue of child abuse that we here in Michigan live with on a daily basis. However, if you or a loved one are being falsely accused of abusing a child, contact us immediately. We can help.