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Recognizing Child Abuse

Child abuse can be difficult to detect. Authority figures such as parents, stepparents, or other adults in the household can exercise a great deal of influence over minor children. Even worse, abusive parents or adults may instill fear in their victims, making children less likely to report incidents of abuse, instead suffering in silence.

Parents must remain ever watchful for signs of abuse, including unexplained bruises, cuts, or burns, as well as changes in behavior such as aggressiveness or age-inappropriate statements or actions.

But not all abuse is physical. Emotional abuse can be just as devastating to the development of a young child. The most direct type of emotional abuse is verbal harassment, including threats, put-downs, and other words that instill fear and undermine the self-esteem of a child.

Keep in mind, though, that emotional abuse can be indirect as well. Attempts by one parent to alienate a child from the other parent and undermine that parent’s authority can cause confusion and stress in the child and damage the parent-child relationship. If severe enough, such alienation is abusive. Even negligent parenting—the failure to supervise a child and exercise reasonable discipline when appropriate—can be a form of abuse.

Whatever the type, child abuse is a serious matter and it is important to take swift, aggressive action to see it discontinued. A tough New York custody lawyer can fight to modify a custody agreement or obtain a court order to end abuse of your child by a parent or other adult in the household.

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