A highly emotive subject, child abuse is one of the most commonly reported crimes in the UK, following closely benhind domestic violence.
The existing definitions constituting child abuse in Great Britian are vague, their ideolody being based on any person under the age of 18 coming to harm; whether mental, physical, sexual or through neglect. Sound straightforward? Unfortunately this is not the case and the legal definitions can prove tricky to define.
Within ‘child abuse’, the term ‘harm’ encompasses any treatment which has a detrimental effect on a childs mental or physical health, or on their development. For instance, if a pregnant mother consumed illicit drugs during her pregnancy, the potentially damaging impact on the development of her unborn child, would constitute ‘child abuse’ from 20 weeks onwards.
This article will break down these areas and give advise on the steps that should be taken if an accusation of child abuse has been made.
Although ‘domestic abuse’ is generally associated with adults, when committed against a child it falls within the area of, and so constitutes, ‘child abuse’.
Domestic violence within the home poses huge risks to a child and the potential impact on both physical and emotional wellbeing may be far reaching. If an accusation of ‘domestic abuse’ has been made against you or your partner, you should contact a family solicitor for advice.
A large area that has to be discussed, sexual abuse towards children, has changed in recent years in the UK. If you are accused of performing any of the following actions towards a child, you will need to contact a sexual offence solicitor.
Inappropriate physical contact, non-contact activities (such as showing a child age-inappropriate images), grooming a child in preparation for abuse and using a child in prostitution. These are all very serious accusations and will need to be handled by a sexual offence solicitor.
Recently, child abuse in the UK has been changed to include female genital mutilation. If you or your partner have been accused of performing such an act, or allowing such an act to occur you will once again need the advice of a sexual offence solicitor.
A child who is exposed to emotional abuse runs a higher risk of having a mental illness in the future. Emotional abuse includes withholding affection, berating the child, not allowing them to express their opinions and general mockery or bullying.
If a child is exposed to physical abuse, they will have been handled inappropriately, which could lead to cuts, bruises and even broken bones. If you have been accused of physically hurting your child, then you will need to contact a criminal solicitor for advice.
Depriving a child of care is also categorised as abuse in the UK.
If you have deprived a child of clothing, food, medical attention or have failed to protect them from harm in the family home, you may be charged with child endangerment and abuse. In this case, you will need to seek legal advice from a criminal solicitor in the UK.