The people you trusted to protect your child are the ones who hurt your child. You carefully choose where your child would be when he was not with you. You knew the adults in charge—and you never could have predicted that your child would be abused or neglected in their care.
However, the unthinkable has happened and your child has suffered serious injuries because of abuse or neglect that never should have happened.
Child Abuse and Neglect Can Happen Anywhere
In 2015 alone 43,775 children were abused or neglected in Florida. Abuse or neglect can occur in any setting. When you are not with your child, you may be concerned about the potential for abuse or neglect in or at:
- Doctor offices
- Dentist offices
- Extracurricular activities
- Sports teams
- Public and private schools
In these cases, the abuser may not be the only one who is responsible for your child’s injuries. The office, organization, or school where the abuse occurred may be liable for failing to supervise the person who hurt your child and for failing to protect your child from abuse and neglect injuries.
Child Abuse and Child Neglect Are Not the Same Thing
Child abuse and child neglect may result in the same serious injuries, but they are not the same thing. Child abuse is an intentional or willful act (or failure to act). Typically, child abuse includes things such as:
- Sexual abuse
Child neglect is the failure to provide reasonable care for a child. This may occur without the intent to harm a child—although the result may be a child’s injury. Child neglect typically involves the failure to act and includes depriving children of:
- Medical treatment
- Supervision to prevent injury
All it takes is one abusive act or one negligent moment for your child to be hurt.
How to Know If Your Child Has Been Abused
In Florida, anyone can report suspected child abuse to the Department of Children and Family Services by calling the Florida Abuse Hotline at 800-962-2873. While most people can do so anonymously, the following people are mandatory reporters and must provide their names to the state:
- Mental health professionals
- Social workers
- Spiritual practitioners
- Law enforcement officers
This system of mandatory reporting is supposed to protect children. Unfortunately, it does not work perfectly, and you may notice signs of abuse well before it is ever reported to the state. Some signs of child abuse include:
- Physical injuries (such as bruises) that cannot be explained
- Changes in eating that lead to weight loss or weight gain
- Insomnia or nightmares
- Genital pain, bruising, or bleeding
- Bed-wetting (among children who had previously been toilet trained)
- Abdominal pain or headaches that cannot be medically explained
- Sexual behavior that is not age-appropriate
- Changes in behavior
If your child experiences any signs of potential abuse, then it is important to get your child prompt medical care, to find out who did this so that you can prevent further injury, and to talk to an experienced child abuse injury lawyer about protecting your child’s rights.
A Florida Child Abuse Lawyer Can Make an Important Difference in Your Child’s Recovery
Child abuse and neglect can result in complicated and costly long-term injuries. Your child may have suffered physical and emotional injuries that will impact him for the rest of his life. Your whole family may be suffering.
While the state of Florida may pursue a criminal case against the person who abused your child, that criminal case is not going to result in a financial recovery for your child. The criminal case may punish the abuser, but it will not compensate your child for the physical pain, emotional anguish, medical bills, and other harm that resulted from the abuse. A civil child abuse or neglect lawsuit, however, can compensate your child for all of his injuries.
We are experienced child abuse lawyers, and we are also parents. We can’t go back and undo what has been done, but we will do everything in our power to hold the abuser—and the organization for which the abuser worked—accountable. While the person who committed the abuse may not have the money to fairly compensate your child, the school, office, or organization that employed that person, that failed to supervise that person, and that failed to protect your child will likely have an insurance policy that will allow your child to make a fair recovery.
To learn more, please contact us today. We would be happy to provide you with a confidential and free initial consultation so that you can learn more about how you can help your child and how we can help your family.