call us630-584-4800

Free Consultations

Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

Posted on in Child Custody

child abuse, child abuse and neglect, child abuse prevention, Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, child neglect, Childhelp, combating child maltreatment, Illinois child abuse cases, Illinois guardian ad litem lawyer, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, St. Charles Illinois guardian ad litem attorneysDuring the month of April, National Child Abuse Prevention is recognized. And while we should always be sensitive to the needs of young Americans, special recognition of child abuse and neglect gives those needs a renewed focus, both nationally and here in Illinois.

The federal government first extended legislative protection to abused and neglected children in 1974. That law, the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), created a national focal point for combating child maltreatment and supporting states’ efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Unfortunately, there is still a need for those services. According to Childhelp, a national nonprofit organization, more than six million children are reportedly involved in child abuse cases each year in the United States. That is a frightening statistic, even more so when some of the numbers are broken down further:
  • Every 10 seconds someone reports an incident of child abuse;

  • Almost three-quarters of the children who die from abuse are younger than four years old;

  • Juvenile sex offenders most likely know their victims. In fact, about 90 percent of victims know their abuser;

  • It is a cycle of abuse: almost one-third of abused children will later abuse their own children; and

  • Child abuse is not specific to one ethnicity or income bracket; it exists across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Determining the Best Interests of a Child

Illinois takes the welfare and protection of its children seriously. In some cases, that means determining who is best suited to care of a child. That determination might entail rescuing a child from an abusive relationship or awarding primary custody to one parent over another in a divorce proceeding. In all custody proceedings, the law adheres to the best interests standard, which means the court makes decisions regarding a child based on what is in his or her best interests. The court considers all relevant factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The wishes of the child regarding custody;

  • The wishes of the parents regarding custody;

  • The mental and physical health of the involved parties;

  • The existence or threat of physical violence toward the child;

  • The occurrence of ongoing or repeated abuse, both emotional or physical;

  • Whether the child is adjusted to a particular home, school or community; and

  • The relationship the child has with his or her parents, siblings or anyone who might significantly affect the child’s best interests, such as a parent’s significant other.

A court will often appoint a Guardian ad litem (GAL) to represent the best interests of a child in a divorce, domestic abuse or other proceeding involving the child’s general welfare. It is the GAL’s responsibility to investigate the facts of the case and to make recommendations in accordance with the child’s best interests. The GAL must submit a written report to the court and be available to testify regarding his or her findings.

Contact a Family Law Attorney for Help

Child custody cases–especially cases allegedly involving child abuse and neglect–are sensitive. They require the assistance of an experienced attorney who knows how to argue for the best interests of your children. Do not hesitate to contact an experienced Illinois guardian ad litem lawyer today for a consultation. We can assist those in the St. Charles area.

Back to Top