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What is Considered an Unsafe Environment for a Child?

If you have children, you may understand what a joy being a parent to a child is. A child's innocence is one of the purest things in life, and as a parent, you would do anything to protect your children and provide them with a better life.

However, not all parents may have that same mindset when it comes to raising a child. Unfortunately, some parents may see their children as a burden or regret, and the reality is that many children do not grow up in a loving home like you would believe. However, if you are educated and understand what you can do to help a child in need, you just may be saving a child's life.

The family law courts of Texas aim to protect their children from any unsafe environment a parent or guardian has created for a child. After reading this blog, our goal is to help you understand what signs you should be watching out for and what you can do to make a difference.

Being a Parent Requires More Than The Basics

As a parent or guardian, your direct support for your child will come from providing for their basic life necessities: shelter, clothing, and food. These necessities don't always have to be the best of the best but will need to do the essential functions every person needs in their lives: a roof over their head, a full stomach, and clothing to cover them.

While most parents will provide the necessities, most overlook that raising a child in a healthy environment requires more than just the necessities. A healthy growing child should also receive an abundance of emotion and physical love from their parents, which will help foster healthy relationships.

Signs to Watch For

The truth of the matter is that most people will not always be aware of the signs they are looking for. An unsafe environment can come in many forms and may not always be present on it is face. However, what a concerned person should do is pay attention to the child. Most children will display behavioral changes when they are going through something. The two main categories that will display an unsafe environment include abuse and neglect.

Abuse

Abuse can come in more forms than just physical, including both emotional and sexual. In physical abuse, a child is physically harmed and put in danger. Regardless of the abuse has left the child with a severe injury or bruises, it is still abuse. Examples of physical abuse can include: hitting, kicking, burning, or throwing objects at the child. While many more forms of physical abuse can be mentioned, it's essential to pay attention to a child's body for these signs.

Next is, more importantly, emotional abuse, which is when a parent harms the child's emotional well-being and development. This can come in many forms, like failing to display love and affection, ignoring your child, shaming your child, or threatening them.

Lastly, sexual abuse is one of the most heinous forms of abuse and can also land you with serious criminal charges if it is proven. This can be any form of sexual activity with a child, not only contact. Examples of sexual abuse can include forcing your child to take nude photos or videos, having sexual contact with your child, including kissing and sex, etc.

Neglect

The next category of an unsafe environment includes neglect. Neglect, as defined, is the act or omission to act for a child to whom a duty is owed. There are four main types of child neglect: physical neglect, medical neglect, educational neglect, and emotional neglect. In physical neglect, a parent will fail to provide for a child's necessities of shelter, food, and clothing. In medical, a parent will forget to give a child their essential medical/dental care. In educational neglect, a parent will die to enroll their child in school or allow them to miss school excessively. In emotional neglect, a parent fails to provide support, love, and affection. While these are just examples, neglect can be proven in many more forms.

Whether your child is being abused or neglected, understanding how they display their emotions can be a big sign that they are going through something. While not every child will react in the same manner, some behavioral effects of abuse and neglect can include a child acting out in more aggressive behaviors, being withdrawn from activities they participate in, being constantly hungry, having soiled clothing, scars, and bruises, all over their bodies, absent from school, afraid when questioned about their condition, and getting into more fights.

CPS Involvement

When courts and judges make decisions regarding children, it is essential to know that everything will always be chosen with the child's "best interest" in mind. For most, a child's best interest will be to remain with their parents, and intervention will only be in the most severe cases if their remaining in the family home will not be within the child's best interest.

However, CPS will investigate by obligation if you have been reported to Child Protective Services for abuse or neglect. This turns us now to the legal consequences of what abuse and neglect can bring to a parent if they are brought to the attention of CPS. A preliminary investigation will be made into the allegations and to make determinations if further action is required.

If you believe you will be investigated by CPS, as a parent, you should want to meet with an attorney and educate yourself about the process and what you should be doing as a parent. It's essential to understand your rights as a parent, because ultimately your child may be taken away, and your rights may be terminated.

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is a state-recognized organization that's sole mission is to support safe and healthy family values and protect both adults and children from abuse, neglect, etc. More specifically, the DFPS oversees five essential programs in Texas: Adult protective services, child protective services, child care licensing, statewide intake, and prevention and early intervention. These five programs help promote the DFPS' mission through their specialized areas. Understanding that CPS is one of the five programs the DFPS overlooks will help educate you if you are looking for more information in any of these other programs. If you want more information about the DFPS' mission and the programs they offer, please visit their website at https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/default.asp.

Get A Child Help!

The state of Texas has a toll-free hotline that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and nationwide for people to anonymously call and report incidents of child abuse/neglect at 1-800-252-5400. They also have access via a secure website at https://www.txabusehotline.org/Login/Default.aspx, where you can write an incident. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglect, don't hesitate to help because every second matters.

If you have questions about a child in an unsafe environment, please get in touch with our office to set up your FREE 30-minute consultation with one of our expert attorneys. We will be more than glad to assist you in any legal matter regarding CPS or preparing you if you believe CPS will become involved in your child's life. I appreciate your attention to today's blog.

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