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Child Abuse

What you Need to Know

Child abuse is the mental, physical, or sexual abuse of a child. Victims of child abuse are often left with lasting scars and need help as soon as possible.

Many people are reluctant to involve themselves in what may seem like another family’s private affairs. To the contrary, do not hesitate if there are genuine signs of abuse.

There are several ways to identify child abuse. While corporal punishment is not necessarily unlawful, if it is considered beyond the bounds of reasonable discipline, a perpetrator would be charged with child abuse.

Some ways to identify possible physical child abuse are: physical signs of bruising and other marks on a child repeatedly in areas not common for children (knees and elbows are common areas where a child may normally hurt themselves through play); behavior of a child; behavior of a caregiver. The caregiver may have anger/stress management concerns, which could adversely affect a child.

The same applies to signs of child neglect. Does the caregiver have a substance abuse problem preventing their taking care of their children? Is the child consistently dirty or unkempt to the point of concern?

Child sexual abuse also can be identified through behaviors or physical manifestations of children. A child may have injuries to his genital areas, sexually transmitted diseases, or may appear inexplicably emotionally upset. An adult may appear overly controlling or protective of the child.

The purpose of the Palm Beach County Child Abuse Protective Investigations Protocol is to coordinate services to the families of Palm Beach County through cooperation, collaboration, and the sharing of appropriate information by agencies within this jurisdiction. Child Abuse Protocol

If a parent or guardian finds pornography on the child's computer or in their possession this should be investigated immediately. Of course there are no formulaic ways to determine whether or not a child is being sexually abused, these are merely some guidelines to consider.

If child abuse in any form is reported to you, or you are made aware of child abuse, please immediately contact the Department of Children and Families Hotline at 1-800-96-Abuse as well as your local law enforcement agency.