Utah Criminal Code 76-5-110: Abuse Or Neglect Of A Child With A Disability
1. As used in this section:
a) “Abuse” means:
I. inflicting physical injury, as that term is defined in Section 76-5-109;
II. having the care or custody of a disabled child, causing or permitting another to inflict physical injury, as that term is defined in Section 76-5-109; or
III. unreasonable confinement.
b) “Caretaker” means:
I. any parent, legal guardian, or other person having under that person’s care and custody a disabled child; or
II. any person, corporation, or public institution that has assumed by contract or court order the responsibility to provide food, shelter, clothing, medical, and other necessities to a disabled child.
c) “Disabled child” means any person under 18 years of age who is impaired because of mental illness, mental deficiency, physical illness or disability, or other cause, to the extent that the person is unable to care for the person’s own personal safety or to provide necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, and medical care.
d) “Neglect” means failure by a caretaker to provide care, nutrition, clothing, shelter, supervision, or medical care.
2. Any caretaker who abuses or neglects a disabled child is guilty of a third degree felony.
3. A parent or legal guardian who provides a child with treatment by spiritual means alone through prayer, in lieu of medical treatment, in accordance with the tenets and practices of an established church or religious denomination of which the parent or legal guardian is a member or adherent shall not, for that reason alone, be considered to be in violation under this section
a) Subject to Subsection 78-3a-118, the exception under Subsection (3)(a) does not preclude a court from ordering medical services from a physician licensed to engage in the practice of medicine to be provided to the child where there is substantial risk of harm to the child’s health or welfare if the treatment is not provided.
b) A caretaker of a disabled child does not violate this section by selecting a treatment option for a disabled child’s medical condition, if the treatment option is one that a reasonable caretaker would believe to be in the best interest of the disabled child.
Child abuse isn’t just about black eyes. While physical abuse is shocking due to the marks it leaves, not all signs of child abuse are as obvious. Ignoring children’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, exposing them to sexual situations, or making them feel worthless or stupid are also forms of child abuse and neglect and they can leave deep, lasting scars on kids. Regardless of the type of abuse, the result is serious emotional harm. But there is help available. If you suspect a child is suffering from abuse or neglect, it’s important to speak out. By catching the problem as early as possible, both the child and the abuser can get the help they need.
To start, it’s important to separate the myths from the facts about child abuse and neglect:
Effects of child abuse and neglect
All types of abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, their future relationships, and ability to function at home, work and school.
• Lack of trust and relationship difficulties: If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Without this base, it is very difficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships in adulthood. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
• Core feelings of being worthless: If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, it is very difficult to overcome these core feelings. As they grow up, abused kids may neglect their education or settle for low-paying jobs because they don’t believe they are worth more. Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
• Trouble regulating emotions: Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings. Abusive behavior comes in many forms, but the common denominator is the emotional effect on the child. Whether the abuse is a slap, a harsh comment, stony silence, or not knowing if there will be dinner on the table, the end result is a child that feels unsafe, uncared for, and alone.
• Emotional abuse: Contrary to some people’s beliefs, words can hurt and emotional abuse can severely damage a child’s mental health or social development. Examples of emotional abuse include:
Constant belittling, shaming, and humiliating
Calling names and making negative comparisons to others
Telling a child they’re “no good,” “worthless,” “bad,” or “a mistake”
Frequent yelling, threatening, or bullying
Ignoring or rejecting a child as punishment, giving them the silent treatment
Limiting physical contact with a child—no hugs, kisses, or other signs of affection
Exposing a child to violence against others, whether it is against the other parent, a sibling, or even a pet
Child neglect a very common type of child abuse is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, which include adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or supervision. Child neglect is not always easy to spot. Sometimes, a parent might become physically or mentally unable to care for a child, such as in cases of serious illness or injury, or untreated depression or anxiety. Other times, alcohol or drug abuse may seriously impair judgment and the ability to keep a child safe. Physical abuse involves physical harm or injury to the child. It may be the result of a deliberate attempt to hurt the child or excessive physical punishment. Many physically abusive parents insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline ways to make children learn to behave.
With physical abuse, the following elements are present:
Unpredictability: The child never knows what is going to set the parent off. There are no clear boundaries or rules. The child is constantly walking on eggshells, never sure what behavior will trigger a physical assault.
Lashing out in anger: Abusive parents act out of anger and the desire to assert control, not the motivation to lovingly teach the child. The angrier the parent, the more intense the abuse.
Using fear to control behavior: Abusive parents may believe that their children need to fear them in order to behave, so they use physical abuse to keep their child in line. However, what children are really learning is how to avoid being hit, not how to behave or grow as individuals.
Sexual abuse: Child sexual abuse is an especially complicated form of abuse because of its layers of guilt and shame. It’s important to recognize that sexual abuse doesn’t always involve body contact. Exposing a child to sexual situations or material is sexually abusive, whether or not touching is involved.
Sexually abused children are often tormented by shame and guilt. They may feel that they are responsible for the abuse or somehow brought it upon themselves. This can lead to self-loathing and sexual and relationship problems as they grow older.
The shame of sexual abuse makes it very difficult for children to come forward. They may worry that others won’t believe them, will be angry with them, or that it will split their family apart. Because of these difficulties, false accusations of sexual abuse are not common, so if a child confides in you, take them seriously.
Warning Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect
Warning signs of emotional abuse:
• Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong
• Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant, demanding, passive, aggressive)
• Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver
• Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums)
Warning Signs of Physical Abuse:
• Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts
• Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen
• Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt
• Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home
• Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days
Warning Signs of Child Neglect:
• Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather
• Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor)
• Untreated illnesses and physical injuries
• Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations
• Is frequently late or missing from school
Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse In Children:
• Trouble walking or sitting
• Displays knowledge of sexual acts inappropriate for their age, or even seductive behavior
• Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason
• Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities
• An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14
• Runs away from home
Risk Factors For Child Abuse And Neglect
While abuse and neglect occurs in all types of families, children are at a much greater risk in certain situations.
• Domestic violence: Even if the abused parent does their best to protect their children, domestic violence is still extremely damaging. Getting out is the best way to help your children.
• Alcohol and drug abuse: Parents who are drunk or high may be unable to care for their children, make good parenting decisions, or control often-dangerous impulses. Substance abuse can also lead to physical abuse.
• Untreated mental illness: Parents who are suffering from depression, an anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or another mental illness may have trouble taking care of themselves, much less their children. A mentally ill or traumatized parent may be distant and withdrawn from their children, or quick to anger without understanding why. Treatment for the caregiver means better care for the children.
• Lack of parenting skills: Some caregivers never learned the skills necessary for good parenting. Teen parents, for example, might have unrealistic expectations about how much care babies and small children need. Or parents who were themselves victims of child abuse may only know how to raise their children the way they were raised. Parenting classes, therapy, and caregiver support groups are great resources for learning better parenting skills.
• Stress and lack of support: Parenting can be a very time-intensive, stressful job, especially if you’re raising children without support from family and friends, or you’re dealing with relationship problems or financial difficulties. Caring for a child with a disability, special needs, or difficult behaviors is also a challenge. It’s important to get the support you need, so you are emotionally and physically able to support your child.
Recognizing Abusive Behavior In Yourself
Raising children is one of life’s greatest challenges and can trigger anger and frustration in the most even-tempered parent or guardian. If you grew up in a household where screaming and shouting or violence was the norm, you may not know any other way to raise your kids. Recognizing that you have a problem is the biggest step to getting help. The following are warning signs that you may be crossing the line into abuse:
• You can’t stop your anger. What starts as a swat on the backside may turn into multiple hits getting harder and harder. You may shake your child more and more and finally throw them down. You find yourself screaming louder and louder and can’t stop yourself.
• You feel emotionally disconnected from your child. You may feel so overwhelmed that you don’t want anything to do with your child. You just want to be left alone and for your child to be quiet.
• Meeting the daily needs of your child seems impossible. While everyone struggles with balancing dressing, feeding, and getting kids to school or other activities, if you continually can’t manage to do it, it’s a sign that something might be wrong.
• Other people have expressed concern. It may be easy to bristle at other people expressing concern. However, consider carefully what they have to say. Are the words coming from someone you normally respect and trust?
How To Help An Abused Or Neglected Child
It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed and confused. Child abuse is a difficult subject that can be hard to accept and even harder to talk about for both you and the child. When talking with an abused child, the best way to encourage them is to show calm reassurance and unconditional support. If you’re having trouble finding the words, let your actions speak for you.
• Avoid denial and remain calm: A common reaction to news as unpleasant and shocking as child abuse is denial. However, if you display denial to a child, or show shock or disgust at what they are saying, the child may be afraid to continue and will shut down. As hard as it may be, remain as calm and reassuring as you can.
• Don’t interrogate: Let the child explain to you in their own words what happened, but don’t interrogate the child or ask leading questions. This may confuse and fluster the child and make it harder for them to continue their story.
• Reassure the child that they did nothing wrong: It takes a lot for a child to come forward about abuse. Reassure them that you take what they said seriously, and that it is not their fault.
• Safety comes first: If you feel that your safety or the safety of the child would be threatened if you tried to intervene, leave it to the professionals. You may be able to provide more support later.
When you need a criminal attorney, please call Ascent Law LLC for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506