Family law: What to do if child abuse is suspected

There are laws in place to protect the physical and emotional well-being of children. When British Columbia residents suspect a child is being abused, it is incumbent upon them to report it to the authorities. Family law rules exist to ensure convicted child abusers are punished to the extent of the law.

There are four main areas of abuse: sexual, emotional, neglect and physical. Abuse is often hard to spot, but even when someone suspects a child is being abused, he or she must report it. When a child has self-abusing behaviours, self harms or has trouble walking or sitting, he or she may be suffering from sexual abuse. Emotional abuse signs can include sleep disorders, nausea, fear of many things, acting out and wetting the bed. When a child frequently misses school, is always hungry, has poor hygiene or never has a change of clothes, that child may be neglected, and physical abuse signs include unexplained injuries, aggression or a fear of going home.

Although the Criminal Code of Canada has no direct provisions for child abuse, there are laws for various offences like failing to provide the necessities of life, abandoning child, sexual assault, criminal negligence and assault. Citizens who have a reasonable belief that a child is being abused, and who don't report it, may suffer the penalties according to the laws of the province in which they reside. A child's safety and well-being are paramount under the law.

British Columbia residents who have questions regarding the abuse of children, or who may be unsure what to do if they suspect abuse, can discuss the situation with a family law lawyer. A lawyer may be able to advise on what steps should be taken next. When people have some knowledge of family law, they may be more apt to report such incidents of child abuse.

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