Blurred Lines in What Constitutes Child Abuse

Q: Is spanking child abuse?

In California, child abuse is any action – – physical, emotional, or sexual – – that causes a child to suffer harm.

While abusers may be criminally charged, child abuse also falls under the personal injury umbrella so victims may be entitled to compensatory damages in a civil action as well.

Child abuse can leave its young victims with permanent and irreversible physical and emotional damage. Depending on the circumstances of each particular case, compensatory damages could include past and future expenses for medical care, psychological treatment, prescriptions, pain and suffering, and even punitive damages.

Some examples of physical child abuse include hitting, slapping, shaking, or shoving. Emotional abuse examples include manipulation, humiliation, bullying, demeaning or ignoring, threatening violence or abandonment, and more.

The Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act requires those in a “position of authority” over children to report known or suspected incidents of child abuse or neglect and deems many professionals, such as educators and others who work closely with children to be “mandatory reporters “. Mandatory reporters must act quickly– notifying the authorities within 36 hours of learning of the actual or suspected abusive incident.

While abuse can come at the hands of anyone, from friends and family to strangers, it sadly can also come at the hand of a parent.

Recently, a former celebrity couple made the news when the woman accused her ex-husband of physical child abuse for “excessive spanking” of their six-year-old son. In addition to telling his mother about the alleged incident, the child also reportedly told school officials, resulting in an investigation by the L.A. Department of Children and Family Services. The father reportedly admitted to infrequent “light spanking”, saying it was “an agreed-upon method of punishment”. The mother is seeking to expand her custody by modifying the father’s regular Thursday through Sunday overnights to monitored daytime visits only.

If you suspect your child has been the victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, the Los Angeles Law Firm of J&Y can help you obtain a protective order to safeguard your child and advise as to what other legal action may be appropriate. Call us today at 888-806-6722 for a confidential and free consultation. We fight child abuse and neglect throughout California.