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¡No Se Deje!
Child abuse is an enormous problem in our society. Child abuse includes physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse as well as neglect. Statistics reveal that child abuse and neglect violations have been increasing for many years. A report by the CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION CENTER indicates that in a given year 4 children died every day in this country because of abuse or neglect. In addition to the deaths, it was estimated that around 905,000 children are seriously mistreated and about 18,000 are permanently disabled each year due to child abuse. And the financial cost to the taxpayers of this country is estimated to exceed 100 Billion dollars per year.
California child abuse laws state:
Any person who, under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the child to be placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or in a state prison for two, four, or six years. Fines of up to $6,000 can also be imposed. Cases which are not “Likely to produce great bodily harm or death” are misdemeanors in which the maximum incarceration is one year in county jail.
If probation is granted by the court, convicted child abusers must be required to serve 4 years on probation. The court must issue a protective order to protect the victim from future violent acts or threats and can order the abuser excluded from the home. And, abusers must attend a child abuser’s treatment counseling program for at least one year.
Anyone who has custody of a child under 8 years old who assaults the child by means of force which causes death will be sentenced to 25 years to life in state prison. Prosecutors may also file murder charges in these cases.
Doctors, teachers, nurses, school employees, and many other people that work with children are required by law to report suspected incidents of child abuse to the police. Many child deaths may have been avoided if violent previous conduct had been reported. Reporting child abuse ensures that the abuser and family will finally get professional help to deal with this very serious and potentially deadly problem.
Child abuse experts advise everyone to watch for the following signs that child abuse may be occurring:
Unexplained Injuries, Changes in Behavior, Fear of Going Home, Changes in Eating Habits, Changes in Sleeping Habits, Changes in School Performance, Failure to Keep up Personal Appearance and Hygiene, Engaging in Risk Taking Behavior (using drugs or carrying weapons) and Inappropriate Sexual Behavior. Children are helpless and unable to free themselves from the painful and deadly consequences of abuse. Please report even suspected child abuse; you do not have to have proof. A child’s life may depend on it. ¡NO SE DEJE! ®
JESS J. ARAUJO, ESQ.