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Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, Ph.D.

Dr. Dorothy, Hypnotherapist, is an internationally recognized authority on bridging Science, Spirit, and Human Potential with over 30+ years experience.

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Legal Issues

Mandatory Reporting Laws

Every state has mandatory reporting laws that require certain people to report apparent or suspected child abuse to a central authority, such as via a statewide toll-free hotline. The reports — which are often anonymous — are meant to promote early intervention of child abuse.

Many states require “any person” to report suspected child abuse, whereas other states require mandatory reporting by certain professional, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, school officials, day care workers, and law enforcement personnel. In some states, failing to report instances of child abuse is considered a misdemeanor punishable by fines, jail time, or both.

Examples of warning signs of abuse of a child may include:

  • Physical abuse – unexplained burns, bites, bruises, and broken bones or parent’s philosophy of harsh physical discipline
  • Emotional abuse – extreme behavior, delayed physical or emotional development, attempted suicide, and belittling by a parent or caregiver
  • Sexual abuse – difficulty walking or sitting, reports of nightmares or bedwetting, sudden changes in appetite, sudden refusal to change in front of others or participate in gym activities
  • Neglect – frequent absences from school, obvious lack of medical or dental care, severe body odor, stays home alone

– See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/child-abuse-overview.html#sthash.ReE9kZRO.dpuf

Mandatory Reporting Laws

Every state has mandatory reporting laws that require certain people to report apparent or suspected child abuse to a central authority, such as via a statewide toll-free hotline. The reports — which are often anonymous — are meant to promote early intervention of child abuse.

Many states require “any person” to report suspected child abuse, whereas other states require mandatory reporting by certain professional, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, school officials, day care workers, and law enforcement personnel. In some states, failing to report instances of child abuse is considered a misdemeanor punishable by fines, jail time, or both.

Examples of warning signs of abuse of a child may include:

  • Physical abuse – unexplained burns, bites, bruises, and broken bones or parent’s philosophy of harsh physical discipline
  • Emotional abuse – extreme behavior, delayed physical or emotional development, attempted suicide, and belittling by a parent or caregiver
  • Sexual abuse – difficulty walking or sitting, reports of nightmares or bedwetting, sudden changes in appetite, sudden refusal to change in front of others or participate in gym activities
  • Neglect – frequent absences from school, obvious lack of medical or dental care, severe body odor, stays home alone

– See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/child-abuse-overview.html#sthash.ReE9kZRO.dpuf

Mandatory Reporting Laws

Every state has mandatory reporting laws that require certain people to report apparent or suspected child abuse to a central authority, such as via a statewide toll-free hotline. The reports — which are often anonymous — are meant to promote early intervention of child abuse.

Many states require “any person” to report suspected child abuse, whereas other states require mandatory reporting by certain professional, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, school officials, day care workers, and law enforcement personnel. In some states, failing to report instances of child abuse is considered a misdemeanor punishable by fines, jail time, or both.

Examples of warning signs of abuse of a child may include:

  • Physical abuse – unexplained burns, bites, bruises, and broken bones or parent’s philosophy of harsh physical discipline
  • Emotional abuse – extreme behavior, delayed physical or emotional development, attempted suicide, and belittling by a parent or caregiver
  • Sexual abuse – difficulty walking or sitting, reports of nightmares or bedwetting, sudden changes in appetite, sudden refusal to change in front of others or participate in gym activities
  • Neglect – frequent absences from school, obvious lack of medical or dental care, severe body odor, stays home alone

– See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/child-abuse-overview.html#sthash.ReE9kZRO.dpuf

Mandatory Reporting Laws

Every state has mandatory reporting laws that require professionals, people in authority and anyone to report apparent or suspected child abuse to a central authority, such as via a statewide toll-free hotline. The reports — which are often anonymous — are meant to promote early intervention of child abuse.

Many states require “any person” to report suspected child abuse, whereas other states require mandatory reporting by certain professional, such as doctors, nurses, social workers, school officials, day care workers, and law enforcement personnel. In some states, failing to report instances of child abuse is considered a misdemeanor punishable by fines, jail time, or both.

Examples of warning signs of abuse of a child may include:

  • Physical abuse – unexplained burns, bites, bruises, and broken bones or parent’s philosophy of harsh physical discipline
  • Emotional abuse – extreme behavior, delayed physical or emotional development, attempted suicide, and belittling by a parent or caregiver
  • Sexual abuse – difficulty walking or sitting, reports of nightmares or bedwetting, sudden changes in appetite, sudden refusal to change in front of others or participate in gym activities
  • Neglect – frequent absences from school, obvious lack of medical or dental care, severe body odor, stays home alone

– See more at: http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/child-abuse-overview.html#sthash.ReE9kZRO.dpuf

Lawsuits are not therapeutic and do not replace therapy, healing or obtaining closure. Talk to your professional. If your professional determines that bringing a suit would be therapeutic for you, explore some of the resources on line and in book stores that explain the litigation process.

Guidelines on Testifying in Court
Testifying in court can seem daunting and/or frightening. Knowing the ins and outs of the process will help you feel more at ease.

To be your own best witness to your abuse the following information needs to be closely examined and followed.

  • Courtroom Dress and Demeanor
  • Direct, Cross, and Rebuttal Examination
  • Guidelines for Testifying in Court
  • Objections by Attorneys and the Judge’s Response

The National Clearing House on Child Abuse and Neglect has an excellent list of guidelines.

Sixteen Steps on Testifying in Court
Another excellent source for testifying in court.

Finding a Shelter
For some domestic violence survivors the only way to escape the abuse is to ‘disappear.’  Shelters provide a safe place until you can find housing, a job, etc.

Shelters are ‘hidden’ from the public for obvious reasons. The police have a list of ‘shelters.’ One of the frequent outcomes of domestic violence is the abuser becomes more enraged when he learns he has been unable to effect the ultimate control of his significant other and he becomes obcessed with finding the object of his rage–you. If you are given the address of a ‘shelter’ avoid endangering yourself or others by revealing where the shelter is located.

Obtaining an Order of Protection

An Order For Protection (OFP) is a court order that will help to protect you from domestic violence. An Order For Protection tells the abuser to stop harming or threatening you. An OFP carries the weight of arrest if the order is violated.

Orders of protection are initiated by reporting the abuse or potential abuse to the police. Once you have made the report the legal process in your area will dictate what procedures you need to follow. If you are unable to pay for an attorney, the court will assign a public defender. Yes, the complainant needs an attorney too.

What happens during a child abuse investigation?

Although procedure and effectiveness varies in each location, protection of children is a state, county and community responsibility, which involves prevention, detection and rehabilitative efforts. County children and youth agencies provide a leadership role in coordinating or providing essential services in each of these areas of protective services. County agencies are the sole civil entity charged with investigating reports of suspected child abuse under the Child Protective Services Law (CPSL). CPSL needs the cooperation of the community for other essential programs such as encouraging more complete reporting of child abuse, adequately responding to meet the needs of the family and child who may be at risk, and encouraging innovative and effective prevention programs. The mission of the child welfare system is on providing safe and permanent homes for children-within the family a foster home or adoption.

Reporting and Investigation of Child Abuse

The Child Protective Services Law (CPSL) defines child abuse as any of the following when committed upon a child under 18 years of age by a parent, household member, person responsible for a child’s welfare or the significant other of a parent:

· Any act or failure to act occurring within the last two years that is a non-accidental serious physical injury
· Any act or failure to act that causes serious mental injury or sexual abuse
· Any act or failure to act occurring within the last two years that creates imminent risk of serious physical injury or sexual abuse
· Serious physical neglect that endangers a child’s life or development or impairs the child’s functioning.

Staff of the county children and youth agencies conduct investigations and must see the child victim with 24 hours to assure that the child is safe. The county agency need to conduct an investigation and interview individuals who may have knowledge of the incident. These investigations need to be completed within 30 days and one of the following determinations needs to be made:

· Founded — a finding by a criminal or juvenile court judge that the child was abused
· Indicated — county agency staff find abuse occurred based on medical evidence, CPS investigation or an admission of the perpetrator
· Unfounded — there is a lack of evidence that the abuse occurred.

Throughout the investigation the county agency is assessing the child’s risk of future maltreatment. The county agency evaluates 15 core factors to determine the level of risk. These factors consider current and prior abuse, the extent of emotional harm to the child as a result of the abuse, substance abuse, family violence and numerous other factors. An overall risk level is assigned to the case of no risk; low risk; moderate risk; or high risk. Based upon this risk rating and the investigation results, the county agency determines if the family is in need of services to aid in reducing the child’s risk. In addition, the county agency is continually assessing the child’s safety.

The county agency needs to decide if the child may remain safely in his or her home or if foster care placement is required. The county agency needs to develop a Family Service Plan that provides the framework for providing services to remedy the conditions that necessitated county agency involvement. These plans are reviewed every six months and revised as necessary. These plans are focused on aiding the family in becoming self-sufficient so that county agency involvement is no longer required.

Sometimes it may be necessary for the county agency to involve the juvenile court in order to obtain services for a child and family. These steps are taken to maintain the safety of the child and the provision of adequate services. Court action needs to be initiated when children are placed outside of their home. In most cases the goal is to reunite the child with their nuclear or extended family. The county agency needs to develop a permanency plan to ensure that children do not remain in out-of-home care for an extended period of time.

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