Child Abuse – Difficult subject, difficult lawsuits

Raleigh, North Carolina ( – News Report) – Although the issue of child abuse and neglect in America is unpleasant, it cannot be ignored. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 2.5 million cases of child abuse and neglect are reported each year. Of these, thirty-five of one hundred involve physical abuse, fifteen of one hundred involve sexual abuse, and fifty of one hundred involve neglect. Studies show that one in four girls and one in eight boys will be sexually abused before they are eighteen years old. About one in twenty children are physically abused each year.

Many times, the children are under the care of the Department of Human Services (DHS) and are placed with foster families. Yet when a lawsuit is brought against government agencies such as the DHS, they are extremely hard to win since a plaintiff must prove that the DHS was to blame for serious abuse or even death, caused by someone else (such as a foster parent or sibling). Although there are many circumstances where abuse and neglect occur, the cases do not always take priority. One such example can be found in the 2003 Porchia Bennett case, in which a 3-year-old died as a result of continual beatings, asphyxiation and malnutrition; shockingly, her case was thrown out. How is it true that in the last ten years, there have only been 67 child-abuse lawsuits brought against the DHS?
The DHS is helpful at times, but also dangerous – exemplified by the DHS entrusting the life of an eight-year-old girl to a formerly convicted bank robber who assaulted and abused the young girl, even passing on HIV to her.

According to Child Maltreatment 2006, the most recent report of data from the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System, approximately 905,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse or neglect in Federal fiscal year 2006. The maltreatment rate was 12.1 per 1,000 children in the population in 2006. Government officials and agencies must recognize these heartbreaking statistics, for if they do not, the youth of our nation suffer. It is imperative that the children are placed in homes with caring, loving parents who have been screened and evaluated to the fullest, before they are given children. Safe environments are the key to stopping youth violence and substance abuse. No child should ever have to endure any form of abuse or neglect, but if they do, their voices should not fall on deaf ears.

*For additional information, please see the Child Welfare Information Gateway or the Department of Human Services for your state.*

Contributors: North Carolina Family Law Firm

About the contributors:

Gailor, Wallis & Hunt, PLLC is devoted solely to domestic relations litigation; family law including appeals, mediation and arbitration; and criminal matters. A boutique practice with five lawyers and a total staff of nine, our firm can help you with:

• Custody and child support
• Complex equitable distribution
• Marital tort litigation
• Postseparation support
• Premarital and preunion agreements
• Property and separation agreements
• Alimony
• Guardianship
• Adoptions
• Appeals
• Criminal matters
• International abduction of children

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