New Jersey Child Abuse Defined
Child Abuse Lawyers Serving Bergen, Hudson, Morris County and across NJ
New Jersey’s Department of Children and Families (DCF), particularly its Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP), aggressively investigates reports of child abuse and neglect throughout the state. If you have been reported for abuse or neglect, you may be wondering how exactly the state defines child abuse. As a parent or guardian accused of child abuse, it is absolutely essential to understand the definition of child abuse according to DCF rules, state law, and federal law. The next thing to do is find an experienced, knowledgeable New Jersey child abuse lawyer who can advise you of your rights and provide personalized guidance relevant to your specific situation. The skilled New Jersey child abuse attorneys at our firm represent individuals accused of child abuse in all of its forms in counties across the state.
If you’re accused of abusing a child or domestic abuse in your home, we will vigorously defend your innocence, whether the allegations came from someone you know or you are unsure of how DCPP began investigating you. From our five convenient office locations throughout New Jersey, our child abuse defense attorneys regularly appear in courts in Hackensack, Morristown, Jersey City, Union, Somerville, Elizabeth, New Brunswick, Fort Lee, Teaneck, and towns across New Jersey to refute the claims our clients are facing. To speak with an experienced DCPP lawyer about your specific situation, contact us online or call (908)-356-6900. Consultations are available 24/7 and provided free of charge.
What is Child Abuse in New Jersey?
According to DCF, the department defines child abuse as the emotional, physical, or sexual harm, or the risk of harm, to a child younger than 18 years of age by that child’s caregiver or parent. DCPP will take action against parents if it receives a report about child abuse, investigates that complaint, and identifies that one or more of these types of child abuse are ongoing in a household.
Federal law, including the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, offers additional helpful details about the definition of child abuse. Specifically, CAPTA states that child abuse and neglect can both be defined as any recent action, or failure to take action, that results in the death of a child, serious emotional or physical harm to a child, sexual exploitation or abuse, and taking any act or causing any risk of serious harm to a child. Federal law also recognizes a child as an abuse victim if the child has been identified by a state or local agency (such as DCF and DCPP) to have been the victim of sex or other trafficking. Outside of these general guidelines, federal law generally defers to state agencies like DCPP to define and handle causes of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
The following provides an overview of the main types of child abuse in New Jersey.
What is Considered Physical Abuse of a Child in New Jersey?
Physical abuse generally includes injury to a child caused by a guardian or parent, provided that the injury was not caused accidentally. Striking a child with an object, your hand, your foot, shaking a child, choking a child, and otherwise injuring the child or risking serious injury to the child would qualify as physical injury. Another form of abuse is conduct that leads to death or near death of a child, such as when a child is beaten or left unattended and drowned or nearly drowned in a swimming pool.
Sometimes the inflicted abuse is due to a caregiver’s mental illness that renders the person deficient in judgement, resulting in the child’s injury or impairment, such as head injury causing fracture, brain damage or bleeding due to vigorous shaking. The child may suffer internal and external injuries when struck, burned, scalded, shot, knifed, or bruises, cuts, welts, abrasions, sprains, dislocations, suffocation, mouth injuries and broken bones, fractures caused by a blow, penetrating object, twisting, human bite, tying, tethering, locking up, sedating, poisoning or other trauma not resulting in injury but posing risk of doing so.
What Constitutes Emotional Abuse of a Child in NJ?
Emotional abuse or neglect occurs when a parent or caretaker causes a child mental, emotional or psychological injury to their development, threatening delays in all three areas. Essentially, emotional abuse generally refers to a parent or guardian’s failure to provide emotional support to a child, including by being inattentive, letting a child use drugs or alcohol, and generally failing to care for their psychological well-being.
Child Sexual Abuse Accusations in New Jersey
Sexual abuse of a child includes molestation, sexual assault, prostitution, and many other forms of inappropriate sexual contact. Specifically, sexual abuse includes sexually transmitted diseases resulting from sexual penetration or sexual conduct with one who is afflicted with disease; penetration of sex organs, mouth or anus of one person by another by organ or object; sexual exploitation by using a child for sexual gratification, stimulation or profit; sexual molestation; sexual contact with a child for sexual gratification or arousal; exposing an unsupervised child to a registered or proven sex offender, whether a stranger, relative, parent or sibling of the child; rape; genitals, breasts, anus or other organs injury; child exploitation for commercial gain or advantage by using the child or allowing the child to be used for sexual gratification, arousal, penetration, intercourse or explicit sexual acts.
Beyond that, human trafficking is servitude, when a child is forced to work against their will, such as in labor camps or even in the household, or sexual exploitation of a child for profit or advantage, such as indecent solicitation, child pornography, sex with a child in exchange for money, drugs or other bartered items or needs, or sex tourism.
What is a Mandatory Reporter of Child Abuse in NJ?
Mandatory reporters of child abuse are those required by law to report cases of suspected child abuse or neglect and can face civil and criminal liability for failing to do so. All New Jersey residents are mandatory reporters, not just social workers, teachers, police and healthcare workers.
Accused of Child Abuse in NJ, What can DCPP Do?
DCPP is the agency that is legally charged with assessing and investigating reports of child abuse or neglect, offering services and resources to families and children to address and prevent further abuse. DCPP works with law enforcement, health care providers, educators, and the court system to do their job and address child abuse or neglect. Other integrated assistance comes from faith-based organizations, substance abuse treatment providers, victims’ rights advocates, community and extended family. Depending on the situation, DCPP can pursue legal action against a parent or guardian, initiate child removal proceedings, require parents to fulfill certain requirements to maintain or regain child custody, and many more types of interventions.
Who Can Help Fight Child Abuse Accusations in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, you can be accused of abuse and even face child removal proceedings for a wide-range of incidents that may have happened on a one-time basis. The term “child abuse” is incredibly broad, as is evidenced by the largely encompassing state and federal definitions discussed above. Given the breadth of these definitions, you should take any DCPP investigation or action against you seriously and contact an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney for assistance as soon as possible if you have been accused. You can reach our distinguished team of NJ child abuse practitioners anytime at (908)-356-6900 for a free consultation. Whether you have been accused of child abuse in Morris County, Bergen County, Passaic County, Hudson County, Essex County, or elsewhere in New Jersey, our firm is poised to aggressively attack the case against you.