DOES YOUR STATE HAVE A SAFE HAVEN LAW?
The death of a child is the most tragic outcome of child maltreatment. In addition to the actual killing of a child, deaths occur from failure to provide the basic necessities of life. Inadequate supervision may contribute to a child’s injury or death through adverse events involving drowning, fires, motor vehicle crashes, or other injuries, better known as "acts of omission" - omission on a caregiver’s part to provide a safe environment or care adequate to sustain reasonable growth and development of the child. Children, especially young children, are those most vulnerable to dangers created by inadequate or inappropriate supervision, the failure to provide a safe environment, and/or the impairment of a parent or caregiver. Less commonly, children may die from medical neglect which can include not receiving medical attention for injuries and/or failure to ensure compliance with necessary medical treatments, such as providing insulin for a diabetic child.
Society may view child neglect deaths as tragic accidents and assume that the adults involved have suffered enough through the loss of a child. Sympathizing and empathizing with grieving parents comes naturally. However, society must recognize that most of such deaths are senseless and preventable. Prevention is the key to reducing the number of children who die each year due to serious neglect. A proactive approach must be taken to prevent the future death of our children due to neglect.
Since neglect deaths may be reported as unfortunate accidents, they may receive less publicity, less notice, and less reaction from the public and child advocates than do children who are violently killed by their caregivers.
Although neglect accounts for 78% of all reported cases of child maltreatment in the United States, it is the least studied and most poorly described form of child maltreatment. This is due to many factors including the difficulty in defining and documenting neglect of children nationally.
It is difficult to determine how often child sexual abuse occurs, because it is more secret than physical abuse. Children are often scared to tell anyone about the abuse. Many cases of abuse are not reported.
PROVING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: The first indicators of sexual abuse may not be physical, but rather behavioral changes or abnormalities. Unfortunately, because it can be so difficult to accept that sexual abuse may be occurring, the adult may misinterpret the signs and feel that the child is merely being disobedient or insolent. The reaction to the disclosure of abuse then becomes disbelief and rejection of the child’s statements.
Sexual abuse is usually discovered in one of two ways:
►Direct disclosure (e.g., the victim, victim’s family member or parent seeking help makes a statement)
►Indirect methods (e.g., someone witnesses the abuse to the child, the child contracts a sexually transmitted disease or the child becomes pregnant).
What causes sexual abuse? Abusers are usually men. They tend to know the person they are abusing. The abuser violates the trust of the younger person, which makes the sexual abuse even more devastating. Abusers sometimes have a history of physical or sexual abuse themselves. A small group of repeated abusers have the psychiatric disorder, pedophilia. Their preferred sexual contact is with children.
Sometimes the child may be so traumatized by sexual abuse that years pass before he or she is able to understand or talk about what happened. In these cases, adult survivors of sexual abuse may come forward for the first time in their 40s or 50s and divulge the horror of their experiences. This should NEVER be the case.
While child abandonment typically involves physical abandonment - such as leaving a child at a stranger's doorstep when no one is home -- it may also include extreme cases of emotional abandonment -- such as when a "work-a-holic" parent offers little or no physical contact or emotional support over long periods of time.
Unfortunately, abandoned children (also called "foundlings") who do not get their needs met often grow up with low self-esteem, emotional dependency, helplessness, and other issues.
A person charged with child abandonment may face felony or misdemeanor penalties and other consequences.
The term "child abandonment" is broadly categorized and used to describe a variety of behaviors. Specific examples of child abandonment vary, but common actions that may lead to child abandonment charges may include:
Many State legislatures have enacted legislation to address infant abandonment and infanticide in response to a reported increase in the abandonment of infants. Beginning in Texas in 1999, "Baby Moses laws" or infant safe haven laws have been enacted as an incentive for mothers in crisis to safely relinquish their babies to designated locations where the babies are protected and provided with medical care until a permanent home is found. Safe haven laws generally allow the parent, or an agent of the parent, to remain anonymous and to be shielded from prosecution for abandonment or neglect in exchange for surrendering the baby to a safe haven.
Why are states offering Safe Haven Laws?
The purpose of Safe Haven is to protect unwanted babies from being hurt or killed because they were abandoned. You may have heard tragic stories of babies left in dumpsters or public toilets. The parents who committed these acts may have been under severe emotional distress. The mothers may have hidden their pregnancies, fearful of what would happen if their families found out. Because they were afraid and had nowhere to turn for help, they abandoned their babies.
Abandoning a baby puts the child in extreme danger. Too often, it results in the child's death. It is also illegal, with severe consequences. But with Safe Haven, this tragedy doesn't ever have to happen again.
How does it work?
A distressed parent who is unable or unwilling to care for their infant can give up custody of their baby, no questions asked. They must simply bring the infant to a safe haven location and make sure they locate a person to give the child. As long as the child shows no signs of intentional abuse, no name or other information is required. The specific locations and maximum age of the child varies from state to state. You can find the details of for your location by using the Safehaven Finder. It's safe. It's anonymous. You do not need to tell anyone.
What's the difference between Safe Haven and Adoption?
To place your infant for adoption, you must make an adoption plan and enter into a legal contract where you forfeit your right to custody of your child. Safe Haven arrangements do not require paperwork or contracts. The process is anonymous, so long as your baby is unharmed.
Can only a parent bring in the baby?
No. The parent may choose to have someone else bring in the infant. It can be a family member, a friend, a priest or minister, a social worker—practically any responsible adult.
Can you help a parent decide where to bring the baby?
Yes. The parent can call the Safe Haven Hotline 1-888-510-BABY to receive counseling and get details on the address and directions to the closest safe haven in your state.
Does a parent have to tell anything to the person taking the baby?
No. Nothing is required. However, safe haven staff will record any information that a parent is willing to share, such as the child's health, race, date of birth, place of birth or the medical history of the parents. This could be very useful in caring for the child.
What happens to the baby?
The child will be examined and given medical treatment, if needed. The Social Services Administration will then take custody through Child Protective Services and place the child with an appropriate caregiver.
Does my state have a Baby Safe Haven law?
Yes. Every state in the United States has a Baby Safe Haven provision. The law details vary from state to state, so it's important you learn about your state's requirements.
What if I change my mind?
It's rare that a mother changes her mind. But, if you do, you will have a few days to come back and speak with the authorities about what arrangements can be made for the baby.
I'm in a custody battle. How do I know my spouse won't use the Safe Haven law to take away my child?
Safe Haven laws and locations are only for infants. If your child isn't an infant, there's no way the Safe Haven law can be used. If your child is an infant, rest assured that when a baby comes into the Safe Haven program, authorities across the US are notified and a thorough check is done to make sure no one is looking for the baby.
Emotional abuse is illustrated by:
It can range from a simple verbal insult to an extreme form of punishment. Emotional abuse is almost always present when another form of abuse is found. Emotional abuse can have more long lasting negative psychiatric effects than either physical abuse or sexual abuse. The effects of emotional abuse can be devastating and difficult to reverse. The body mends, but when the mind, spirit or psychology is broken, it is a much longer and more difficult road to repair it.
►Physical neglect: Failure to provide food, weather appropriate clothing, supervision, a safe and clean home. Neglect can be just as harmful to a child as physical abuse.
►Medical neglect: Failure to provide the necessary Failure to enroll a school-age child medical or dental care for a child’s condition.
►Educational neglect: in school or to provide necessary special education. Allowing excessive absences from school.
►Emotional neglect: Failure to provide emotional support, love, and affection to a child. Exposure of a child to spousal, pet, or drug and alcohol abuse.
What causes neglect? The causes of child neglect are complex and can be attributed to three different levels; an intrapersonal, an inter-personal/family and a social/ecological level. Although the causes of neglect are varied, studies suggest that, amongst other things, parental mental health problems, substance use, domestic violence, unemployment, and poverty are factors which increase the likelihood of neglect. Children that result from unintended pregnancies are more likely to suffer from abuse and neglect, they are also more likely to live in poverty. Neglectful families often experience a variety or a combination of adverse factors.
There are four types of neglect: physical neglect, medical neglect, educational neglect and emotional neglect.
► Rape: vaginal or anal penile penetration.
► Oral sex by or to any adult.
► Genital contact with no intrusion.
► Fondling of a child's breasts or buttocks.
► Indecent exposure.
► Production, distribution or possession of child
► Sexual Exploitation: Use of a child in prostitution,
There are three types of sexual offenses against children: Rape, molestation, distribution or production or possession of child pornography.
Child sexual abuse includes a wide range of behaviors, including.
Characterized by injury, such as bruises, lesions and fractures that result from hitting (hand stick, strap, or other object), punching, shaking, kicking, beating, choking, burning (with open flame or hot objects – boiling water, cigarettes), throwing, stabbing or otherwise harming a child.
What causes physical abuse? Physical abuse tends to occur at moments of great stress. Many people who commit physical abuse were abused themselves as children. As a result, they often do not realize that abuse is not appropriate discipline. Often people who commit physical abuse also have poor impulse control. This prevents them from thinking about what happens as a result of their actions.