April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse Prevention month. The purpose of this month is to foster healthy, nurturing and supportive communities to help prevent child abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, child custody cases are fertile ground for unintentional child abuse. Preventing any abuse should be of the utmost importance during your child custody case as these experiences can cause stress in children and put them at higher risk for mental, emotional, and physical harm.
EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT CHILD ABUSE
There is more to abuse than the stereotypical physical aspect. Abuse is categorized into four areas: neglect, physical, sexual and emotional.
Neglect: Children neglected may experience malnutrition or poor hygiene, and lack of attentiveness to their mental, emotional, medical or educational needs.
Physical abuse: Physical abuse is the most common abuse to spot amongst children due to unexplained bruises, burns, or welts. A child physically abused may manifest signs of fear by frequently wetting the bed and exhibiting signs of not being comfortable arounda the perpetrator of the abuse.
Sexual abuse: A child subjected to sexual acts before the age of consent he/she will possess age-inappropriate knowledge of sex; be mindful of your child’s statements regarding pain and be observant of any bleeding or swelling in the genital area.
Psychological/Emotional abuse: Children suffering from emotional abuse often exhibit extremes in behavior frequently going from very happy and active, to quiet and withdrawn; a child may display signs of depression or begin acting out in school.
CREATE A PLAN FOR PREVENTION
When parents are going through a child custody battle emotions are high. The focus tends to shift from what is in the best interest of the child, to causing harm to the other parent; this sometimes leads to neglecting the emotional and physical needs of the minor child to promote one’s agenda.
If you are or will be involved in a child custody case, you should be proactive and create a plan to protect your child from unintentional abuse during the pendency of that matter. Your plan should encompass two primary goals: (1) to remain observant of your child throughout the case and (2) to be intentional about their emotional, physical, and mental wellbeing.
A child custody case is likely to affect at least one area of your child’s wellbeing so be proactive and embrace this. Begin by fostering a nurturing loving home by playing with your children and praising him daily. Never make disparaging remarks about the other parent or demean your children because of that parent. In addition, build a support system so your child has multiple trusted and experienced adults to confide in (this can include a licensed therapist/counselor).
Lastly, remain observant. Observe your children daily. Remain involved with your child’s school as teachers and staff can readily communicate their observations regarding your child. Keep tab of all abnormal behaviors or physical ailments.
Every child has the right to grow up in a safe, nurturing and loving home. If you believe your child or any child is being abused or neglected, please contact your local DFCS office or call 1-855-GACHILD. If you believe that child is in immediate danger, call 911 immediately. For an attorney knowledgeable of the adverse effects of child custody matters and has experience in alleviating these effects, please contact B Bullard Law firm today at 678-432-1100 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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