The Unsettling Basics of Child Abuse in Arizona
The senseless abuse or neglect of a child is one of the most egregious offenses a party can commit. At Hildebrand Law in Scottsdale, we believe very strongly that children of all ages deserve to be raised in a physically and emotionally safe environment. A child should never have to fear for his or her safety, especially in the presence of his or her mother, father, or other family members. If you have concerns or suspicions of abuse or neglect, we urge you to contact the proper Arizona law enforcement authorities or the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS).
Once you have alerted the proper authorities of the potential child abuse and neglect, contact a member of our professional staff here at Hildebrand Law for an initial consultation at 480-305-8300. We’ll quickly arrange your consultation with one of our child abuse lawyers so that you can learn what your options are. As always, with Hildebrand Law, you can rest assured you have a legal expert in your corner who is well-versed in Arizona child abuse laws. We are here to help you and provide compassionate sound legal advice during your time of need.
A Look at the Numbers
Many Arizona residents are not aware just how devastating and prevalent child abuse and neglect are within our state, and unless you have experience with this tragic maltreatment of children, you may not even give it a second thought. However, one look at the numbers may be all it takes to bring proper awareness to the topic.
Check out these alarming figures provided by the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Arizona and the Arizona Child Fatality Review (CFR) Program:
- More than 24,000 calls received by the Arizona Child Abuse Hotline between April and September 2016 met the statutory criteria to prompt a DCS report
- Approximately 18,000 children were being cared for by the foster care system between April to September 2016 due to some child abuse and neglect
- In 2015, 87 children died as a result of abuse or neglect, accounting for more than 10 percent of all child fatalities in the state of Arizona
- In cases of child death due to maltreatment, the perpetrator was the child’s mother or father 79 percent of the time
- Alcohol, drug, or substance use contributed to more than 60 percent of child maltreatment fatalities in 2015
These numbers are staggering and much higher than they ever should be. Perhaps what is even more daunting is that these figures only reflect those cases of abuse that have been brought to the attention of the proper enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why child abuse and neglect go unreported. People may be shocked by the revelation of abuse, may fear retaliation from the abuser, or worry about making the neglect worse for the child if they report it. While these are all understandable reasons for not reporting abusive or neglectful situations for children, the consequence of not reporting the offender could be detrimental or life-threatening for the child.
Abuse and Neglect Defined
In addition to shock and fear, another reason why child abuse and neglect may go unreported is that many people might be confused about what exactly constitutes neglect or ill-treatment. A common misconception is that abuse is abuse. In reality, there are distinctions between abuse and neglect, and the courts will often rely on these differences when ruling on child abuse and child custody matters. Abuse and neglect may result from intentional actions taken by the parent or guardian which present a dangerous environment for the child. In other instances, the maltreatment may be a result of a parent or guardian fails to take proper precautions and reasonable measures to protect their children. In either case, the Arizona Revised Statutes and DCS provide the following definitions:
- Physical Abuse: Intentional physical injury, minor or not
- Emotional Abuse: Emotional distress caused by the acts or omissions of the parent or guardian
- Neglect: The act of placing a child or children at unreasonable risk of harm.
While these definitions are very precise, cases of suspected child abuse and neglect are frequently not so black and white. If you suspect a child is being subjected to physical violence, emotional abuse, or neglect, it is vital to get the proper authorities involved as soon as possible for a proper and official investigation to be completed. Contacting a lawyer who is well versed in Arizona child abuse laws, like Hildebrand Law, is also recommended. You can take the first step to obtaining an initial consultation by contacting us today at 480-305-8300.
This information only begins to scratch the surface of this highly emotional topic. In our next article, we’ll dive into the subject a bit further. We’ll also take a look at how child abuse allegations, charges, and convictions can impact a child custody case in the state of Arizona. Be sure to check back for more information, and in the meantime, browse our family law blog for a collection of articles on other topics.