Child Abuse in North Carolina

Child Abuse is a serious problem that causes the deaths of children each year.

In general, child abuse is the intentional physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment of a child.  North Carolina law provides a more specific definition.  Under NC law, child abuse is 1) a non-accidental, serious physical injury inflicted upon a juvenile less than 18 years of age, 2) creating or allowing to be created a substantial risk of serious physical injury, 3) using or allowing to be used cruel or grossly inappropriate devices to modify behavior, or 4) committing, permitting, or encouraging rape or sexual offenses with a juvenile.

If you know or suspect that child abuse that is going on, you are obligated by law to report it to the Department of Social Services in your county.  The following are signs of abuse in children:
• Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance;
• Displays overt sexualized behavior or exhibits sexual knowledge that is inconsistent with their age;
• Has not received medical attention for a physical injury that has been brought to the parents’ attention;
• Has learning problems that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes;
• Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen;
• Is overly compliant, an overachiever, or too responsible;
• Comes to school early, stays late, and does not want to go home; or
• Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes;
• Has bruises or marks in non-prominent, “fleshy” areas of the body (for example, inside of biceps or behind the knees);
• Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school;
• Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home from school;
• Shrinks at the approach of adults;
• Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver.

1-800-CHILDREN is the hotline for parents to call in NC if they need help with not abusing their child.  When a parent is reported to DSS for the abuse or neglect of a child, a social worker often comes to the home, talks to the parent, child, neighbors, family members and other people close to the family to determine whether abuse is going on.  Children are only removed from the home if there is evidence that the child is in danger.

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