If you are accused of child abuse or neglect, then you must understand the definition and laws that your accusers are basing their accusations upon. Let’s look to the Federal Government and our local counties’ interpretations.
Federal Government – On its website, The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services requires that all states create their own laws based on the minimum standards set by Federal law and those state laws shoud define child abuse and neglect as, at minimum:
- Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or
- An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
Los Angeles DCFS – on its website, the Department of Children and Family Services define Child Abuse as follows:
- It is repeated mistreatment or neglect of a child by parent(s) or other guardian resulting in injury or harm.
If you have been “accused” by being reported to Los Angeles DCFS by a neighbor, very likely they went to the DCFS website to get the phone number of the agency to make their report. The DCFS website’s FAQ page repeatedly encourages the website visitor to report any possible abuse or neglect:
TO BREAK THE ABUSE CYCLE, THE COMMUNITY….YOU….MUST BECOME AWARE OF HOW SERIOUS THE PROBLEM REALLY IS….AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Don’t ignore child abuse, REPORT IT!
In today’s “get-ur-done” culture, many people will simply call the hotline after reading the website and being “encouraged to report suspicions” rather than make sure their perception of you and your family interactions are really “abusive.” Unfortunately, once that hotline call has been made, many innocent parents are in for a legal ride that the “accuser” may have had no idea they set in motion.
California Social Services – on its website defines:
Child Abuse as follows:
- A physical injury which is inflicted by other than accidental means on a child by another person.
- Sexual Abuse, including both sexual assault and sexual exploitation
- Willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment of a child
- Cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury
- Neglect, including both severe and general neglect
Child Neglect as follows:
- Child lacking adequate medical or dental care
- Child is always sleepy or hungry
- Child is always dirty or inadequately dressed for weather conditions
- There is evidence of poor supervision
- Conditions in the home are extremely or persistently unsafe or unsanitary