Many different criminal offenses fall under the umbrella of child abuse. These include emotional, sexual or physical violence, exploitation and neglect. Most cases of child abuse are reported to authorities by mandated reporters. These are individuals such as teachers, doctors, therapists, pastors and others who have close interactions with kids.
North Carolina law describes child abuse as any instance in which a child is placed at significant risk of injury, whether it happens accidentally or intentionally. The state statute goes on to describe how anyone who allows a minor to suffer serious emotional damage or who permits, commits or encourages sexual abuse of a child may be charged with this crime.
The statute also describes how an adult may be charged with child abuse if they provide them with inadequate medical care, attempt to modify a juvenile’s behaviors using inappropriate devices or puts them in a position to engage in delinquent acts.
Mandatory reporters are required to report any suspected cases of child abuse to the Department of Social Services in the county where the child lives. There are penalties associated with not doing so.
The reason lawmakers take child abuse so seriously is that it can leave a lasting impression on a young person’s life. Children who are subjected to emotional abuse may withdraw from others and become depressed. What initially appears to be anxiety may turn into aggressive behaviors. A child may begin acting inappropriately toward others and themselves. The ill effects associated with physical and sexual abuse may be even worse.
One of the reasons why prosecutors in North Carolina are aggressive in bringing cases against suspected child abusers is because they know just how lasting an impression abuse can leave on an individual’s life. Sentences are stiff in these types of cases because lawmakers want to dissuade would-be criminals from making such poor choices.
If you are facing child abuse charges, a criminal defense attorney can advise you of the potential penalties you could face if you’re convicted. They can work with you to determine the defense strategies that may be appropriate for you to pursue.