How Does the Law Help Victims of Child Abuse?
Child care abuse is one of the most insidious and damaging of crimes. Helpless children are at the mercy of parents, guardians, coaches, teachers and others. Although a child can suffer considerable physical injury, the emotional harm can last a lifetime with many victims becoming abusers themselves or homeless, drug addicted or criminals.
Seeking Out the Offenders
The first step in cases where a child has been abused is to remove the child from the abusive situation and obtain treatment for the child. Following that, the perpetrator or parties responsible must be held accountable so that further abuse is averted. Also, a victim should consider obtaining compensation from the abuser or responsible party to pay for medical and psychological treatment and to compensate the victim for his or her pain and suffering.
Law enforcement can arrest the abuser and the courts can punish the offenders, but often the responsible party is either a private or public agency that may have placed the child with a foster parent or failed to adequately screen the offender who committed the abuse. This could include a teacher, priest, adoptive parent, athletic coach, guardian, nanny or other individual entrusted with the care of a minor. In these situations, a lawyer can be instrumental in developing a case against the agency or organization to hold them civilly liable for the abuse committed by their employee or individual who had authority over the child.
Survivors of Childhood Abuse
One of the more controversial issues in recent years regards civil claims brought by adults years after the alleged abuse took place. Many states have extended the usual statute of limitations for sexual abuse crimes or eliminated them entirely. In a number of these cases, the victims recalled the instances of abuse only after undergoing therapy suggesting to some that the incidents never took place or were exaggerated.
A lawyer experienced in child care abuse cases can help a victim by locating other victims who suffered at the hands of this individual or by obtaining records indicating knowledge by the organization that employed the offender or placed them. In some cases, the offender may have confessed the crimes to someone or there are witnesses to the abusive acts who for some reason did not report them. Your lawyer can help find these individuals and urge them to support you in your claim.
The Litigation Process
Obtaining compensation for abusive acts is rarely easy. You have to disclose your medical and other records and surrender your privacy to prove that you were physically and emotionally harmed. Your attorney can help you or the minor child navigate through the often confusing and difficult process of discovery that may include being deposed and answering written questions about your history and the incidents of abuse. Child care abuse cases must be handled with sensitivity by your attorney who must also be zealous in exposing cover-ups, hazy memories and untruths that often plague these difficult cases.