Protecting Kids From Abuse During the Holidays
The holiday season can be a joyous time of year for adults and kids of all ages. And while this probably isn’t a topic most people want to think about (and one many parents want to avoid), we feel it’s important to remind parents that times like these – with guests in from all over and a house full of people coming and going – can be a dangerous time for children.
In fact, rates of child sexual abuse (and abuse in general) often increase around the holidays. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the dangers and educate your children to help protect them as best you can.
Here are some things to keep in mind to better protect your child from sexual abuse:
The myth of “stranger danger.” Despite many parents’ fears surrounding a stranger abusing their child, the uncomfortable fact is that about 90 percent of child abuse is perpetrated by someone who the child and their family know. In addition, about 30% of cases involving child sexual abuse are family members.
Discuss boundaries. It’s important to teach kids that their body is their own and no one has a right to touch them or take pictures without permission. Make sure they know that it’s okay to say no to any unwanted hugs, kisses, or other affection.
Discuss safe and unsafe touches. Safe touches should make people feel happy and loved. Unsafe touches make them feel hurt, sad, confused, or not quite right.
Discuss the difference between safe and unsafe secrets. Like safe touches, safe secrets make you feel happy, and unsafe secrets make you feel confused, wrong, or scared. Adults should never ask them to keep a secret unless it’s something that will make everyone smile, like a surprise party.
Limit alone time. 80% of sexual abuse occurs in one-on-one situations. If you do have to leave your child alone with someone, let the person know you may check in on them.
Be alert. People sometimes notice the signs of abuse but disregard them because it involves someone they know and trust. The sad reality is that no one should be above suspicion, not even family members.
Civil Claims and Damages Stemming from Child Sex Abuse
Whether an abuser is found guilty in criminal court or not, victims (or parents, in many cases) can file a civil suit to get compensation for things like medical and psychiatric care, as well as emotional pain and suffering and other punitive damages.
Another important thing to consider is that burden of proof is often reduced in civil cases. Whereas a defendant needs to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal cases, in civil cases they only need to be found guilty “within a preponderance of the evidence.” Under this standard, the burden of proof is met when the judge or other fact finder determines that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true.
In addition, the long statute of limitations on sexual crimes against children mean that even if it has been years since the offense in question, victims and families can still bring criminal and civil charges against the offender. In fact, in the state of Texas, certain crimes against children – like sexual assault and sexual indecency – have no statute of limitations.
Additional Parties Could Be Found Liable
In civil cases, additional parties may be named besides just the perpetrator of the abuse. For example, if the abuse happened at school, church or another institution, the owner(s) of that property and/or employer of the perpetrator may also be found liable due to negligence.
If an institution like these fails to properly screen new hires or monitor an employee who went on to sexually abuse a child, they could be found liable based on negligent hiring or negligent supervision. Institutions that fail to adequately protect children from sexual abuse may also be found liable.
Who Can Bring a Suit on Behalf of an Abused Child?
Both children and any legal guardians (birth parents or otherwise) can file suit for child sexual abuse. This suit usually entails compensation for any physical, emotional and other harm caused to the child, and it may also cover emotional distress and related harm suffered by the parents.
GreeningLaw P.C. Wants to Help Victims of Child Sexual Abuse and Their Families
At GreeningLaw P.C., we understand that sexual abuse can have a profound effect on someone’s life, especially children. These children often require medical treatment, psychological counseling, family interventions, and more, and we want to be there to help them and their families get the support they need.
If your child was the victim of sexual abuse, call us to schedule a free consultation. We’ll go over the case, discuss your options and any possible compensation, and suggest the best course of action. We treat each case with the personalized care and respect we would afford our own families.
GreeningLaw P.C.’s experienced personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means you don’t owe a thing unless you receive compensation for your case.
And as one of the most recognized personal injury law firms in the state, we know how to ensure that victims and their families are properly compensated for any suffering.
Contact us at 972.934.8900 or contact us on the web today.
We fight the legal battle so you have time for healing and renewal.