Child Abuse And Custody: Recognizing The Signs & Protecting Your Children

child abuse and neglectAccording to a 2013 report from The National Children’s Alliance, 679,000 children in the United States were victims of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, one or more parents were responsible for almost 80% of reported child fatalities. Are your kids be at risk? As part of April’s Child Abuse & Neglect Awareness Month, here are signs to look for if you suspect your current or former spouse is abusing your children, and vital steps you can take to keep your kids safe.

Physical Abuse

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Injuries that don’t match the explanation
  • Frequent trips to the Emergency Room
  • Untreated medical or dental problems

Sexual Abuse

  • Behavior or knowledge that’s not age-appropriate
  • Blood in a child’s underwear
  • Trouble walking or sitting, or pain in genitals
  • Sexual abuse of other children

Emotional Abuse

  • Developmental delays
  • Low self-esteem
  • Social withdrawal
  • Depression
  • Somatization (frequent aches and pains with no apparent cause)
  • Clingy, affection-seeking behavior
  • Academic problems


  • Failure to thrive (poor growth or weight gain)
  • Poor hygiene
  • Hoarding food
  • Stealing
  • Lack of appropriate medical and dental care
  • Insufficient clothing, or clothing that doesn’t fit
  • Apathy

Signs Of An Abusive Parent

  • Shows little concern for child
  • Not cued into the child’s emotional or physical needs
  • Denies problems exist at home or school, or blames problems on children
  • Belittles and insults child
  • Role reversal: expects child to meet his needs or care for other children
  • Isolates child
  • Offers unconvincing explanation for child’s injuries

Steps to Protect Your Child

If you have observed any of these symptoms, you must take the following legal steps to protect your child.

  • Report the abuse. Child abuse reporting laws protect a parent who mistakenly reports that the other parent is abusing or neglecting a child, provided that the suspicions of abuse or neglect are reasonable. If you are unsure if an incident is reportable, you can consult the New Jersey Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-572-SAFE (1-800-572-7233).
  • Call 911 if there is immediate danger. If you can move your child to safe location, do so. If you’re unsure where to go, take your child to a police station. Once the immediate danger has passed, consult an attorney. Take photos of injuries.
  • Take your child to a doctor for a medial examination.
  • File a police report if you haven’t already done so.
  • Obtain a temporary restraining order.
  • File a criminal complaint.

Do you help with a child welfare (DCPP) matter or child custody matter related to child abuse or neglect? We understand your children’s well-being and safety are your topmost priorities. Please contact us today to schedule your confidential consultation. Our attorneys will stand up for your children and take every legal precaution possible and necessary to ensure their safety.