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What constitutes criminal child abuse?

On Behalf of | May 27, 2024 | CRIMINAL LAW - Criminal Law

No child ever deserves to experience a life of abuse. Unfortunately, it happens more often than you think, and these situations can be heartbreaking. North Carolina takes child safety very seriously. By law, criminal child abuse is any act that harms a child’s physical or emotional well-being.

The several types of criminal child abuse

Knowing the different forms of child abuse can identify situations where a child might be in danger.

  • Physical abuse: This involves causing a child under 16 years old physical harm that is not accidental. Examples include hitting, kicking, burning or using objects as weapons.
  • Risk of physical injury: Creating a situation where a child is likely to suffer physical harm is abuse. Leaving a young child unsupervised near a pool or with dangerous objects falls under this category.
  • Emotional abuse: Repeatedly causing a child severe emotional distress is criminal child abuse. This includes constant belittling, humiliation or threats.
  • Sexual abuse: Any sexual act with a minor is illegal and a severe form of abuse. This includes rape, incest and forced sexual acts.

Exploitation or using a child for financial gain and forcing them to work in dangerous conditions also falls under criminal child abuse.

Penalties for child abuse

The severity of the charges and penalties for child abuse depends on the specific act and the resulting harm to the child. This can range from a misdemeanor carrying a lighter sentence to a felony, resulting in years in prison and significant fines.

Combating child abuse

Ensuring the safety and well-being of children should be a top priority for every community. If you suspect someone being abusive toward a child, you are legally obligated to report them to law enforcement or Child Protective Services (CPS) immediately.

You may also seek help from organizations that support victims of child abuse or reach out to legal professionals to hold perpetrators of child abuse accountable for their actions.