You love your children, but they can stress you out sometimes. This is especially true during the summer when your kids are out of school. Whether you work full-time or stay at home and care for your children, you may struggle to deal with them when they get bored and act out or misbehave, looking for stuff to keep them occupied. As much as you try to remain patient, you can only take so much. Sometimes, tensions boil over, and you lash out at your kids, or you take things too far in disciplining them.
New Jersey's Department of Children and Families (DCF) recognizes a difference between child discipline and child abuse, and the department investigates and prosecutes allegations of child abuse. You need to be aware of New Jersey's laws regarding child abuse and when your disciplinary actions may cross the line. You should also consider tips to remain calm and patient and deal with your child's issues appropriately and where to turn for help if you should face charges for child abuse.
How New Jersey Defines Child Abuse
New Jersey's statutes regarding child abuse recognize several different types of unlawful acts parents or legal guardians can perpetrate on minors under the age of 18:
- Abuse – Consists of physical, sexual, or emotional harm.
- Neglect – Occurs when a parent or guardian fails to provide the basic necessities in relation to shelter, food, clothing, education, and medical care or does not provide proper supervision.
- Cruelty to a child – Consists of inflicting “unnecessarily severe corporal punishment upon a child,” tormenting or vexing a child, or engaging in other acts to severely affect the child's mental or physical wellbeing.
- Abandonment – Refers to “willfully forsaking a child” or otherwise failing to keep custody and control of the child so that it imposes grave risk to the child's health and wellbeing or makes the child reliant on public assistance.
By law, any person who suspects child abuse should report the matter immediately to DCF's Child Protection and Permanency (DCPP). If reported for child abuse, you could face fourth-degree felony charges, which could have a profound impact on your custody of your children along with severe repercussions to your reputation, career, and future.
Tips to Remain Patient
As frustrating as it can be to deal with your kids when you're already stressed out, you should listen to your child's perspective before you react. You may also need to just step away from the situation, take a few deep breaths, and calm down. As an adult, you should have the maturity to address the situation appropriately and without physical contact or harsh words. You can also use the opportunity to help teach your child about patience and perhaps work out favorable compromises or resolutions.
What if I Am Charged With Child Abuse?
If someone reports you for alleged child abuse and you get arrested, you need to contact the Criminal Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm for help. Our attorneys have many years of experience defending clients accused of child abuse. We will evaluate your case, advise you of your options, and help you devise an effective defense against the charges. Contact our Criminal Defense Team at (888) 535-3686 to discuss your options.