Child abuse is a grave issue in St. Louis. When someone harms them, however, children have just as much of a legal right to compensation as anyone else, if not more. Missouri law makes it possible for children and their families to file a civil lawsuit for damages arising from child abuse, including sexual abuse. You can hold not only the offender accountable but also the organization, school, or entity that employed them.
At the Dixon Injury Firm, our St. Louis child abuse lawyers work tirelessly to help children and families recover damages for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages due to missed work related to the abuse
- Rehabilitation costs
- Mental health care expenses
- Emotional distress
We approach every case with care and compassion, as if it involved our own children. Our clients always come first. Our St. Louis personal injury attorneys and neglect attorneys are robust advocates who will hold abusers accountable for the horrible injuries and losses they caused to you and your family both now and years into the future.
Child Abuse and Neglect: Missouri’s Startling Stats
Child abuse and neglect are rampant both across our nation and Missouri. A stranger in Forest Park might assault your child. It can happen in St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) or a trusted daycare center. A Boy Scouts of America troop leader or a Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis clergy member may perpetrate the crime.
Consider these startling statistics:
- Over the past year, at least one in seven children has experienced child abuse or neglect.
- Approximately one in 10 children will face sexual abuse before they reach 18, equating to one in seven girls and one in 25 boys.
- Missouri reported 5,465 corroborated child abuse or neglect cases in 2018 alone.
- Approximately 30 percent involved physical abuse, and 25 percent involved sexual abuse.
- Missouri Child Advocacy Centers served over 9,100 children in 2019.
- In 2019, more than 6,000 Missouri children reported sexual abuse, and 2,400 reported physical abuse.
Missouri’s children deserve justice. The abuse they suffer at the hands of those they or their parents trusted or even strangers will likely affect them for the rest of their lives.
In addition to pressing criminal charges against the perpetrator, parents have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit to recover money for the losses they and their child face now and will face far into the future. The best way to do this is to schedule a confidential and free consultation with a St. Louis clergy abuse attorney at the Dixon Injury Firm.
Types of Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse happens when a child less than 18 years old is victimized or neglected by an adult, causing:
- The potential for harm
- The threat of imminent harm
The adult offender may be a parent, relative, caregiver, religious figure, step-parent, babysitter, or coach.
In the U. S., child abuse or neglect occurs at a rate of 8.9 per 1,000 children. Child abuse is a known adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can have lasting impacts on the survivor’s health and well-being. Adverse or traumatic experiences as a child can negatively affect health into adulthood because of its disruptions to social and neurodevelopment.
A history of child abuse can also increase the odds of social, emotional, and cognitive impairment. Armed with this knowledge, it’s easy to see why childhood abuse victims and their families deserve compensation.
Child abuse can occur once or over several instances. Still, it always falls somewhere within four main categories: emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, or neglect.
What is Considered Emotional Abuse
Also known as verbal or psychological abuse, emotional abuse is continuous, non-physical abuse that causes a child to feel unloved, unwanted, worthless, or only valuable if they indulge their abuser’s needs. Emotional abuse employs actions and words to manipulate or control the child, resulting in emotional harm. Victims of childhood emotional abuse often suffer hostility, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, or delinquency.
Types of emotional abuse include:
- Setting unreasonable expectations
- Demeaning or belittling
- Degrading or objectifying the child
- Bullying or cyberbullying
- Threatening or terrorizing
- Invalidating or dismissing the child and their feelings
- Ignoring boundaries
Behavioral changes are expected in kids suffering emotional abuse. Their symptoms might include:
- Excessive crying
- Appearing overly fearful of their parents or the abuser
- Displaying symptoms of a speech, sleep, eating, anxiety disorder, or another mental health disorder
What is Considered Sexual Abuse
Under Missouri law, children can’t consent to any sexual acts. Therefore, any sexual activity occurring between an adult and a minor is sexual abuse. In over 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the child or family knows the perpetrator, who may be a family member, coach, teacher, daycare provider, or clergy member.
Any sexually exploitative act by an adult to a child or in the presence of a child under 18 is abuse. The offender doesn’t have to physically touch a child to abuse them sexually.
Types of sexual abuse include:
- Adults exposing their genitalia to a child
- Calls, text messages, or other interactions sexual in nature
- Masturbation in the presence of a child
- Sexual assault incidents involving an object
- Sexual intercourse of any kind
- Making a child perform sexual acts
- Producing, keeping, or distributing pornographic images or videos of children
- Female genital mutilation
- Sex trafficking
Sexual abuse may occur once or several times. Still, either way, it can have far-reaching consequences on a child’s physical, emotional, and mental health.
The signs and symptoms of child sex abuse include:
- Keeping secrets
- Recurring pain during urination
- Exhibiting inappropriate sexual behavior
- Avoiding the removal of clothing
- Mood changes
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Loss of interest in school and other activities or hobbies, among others
If the victim is an adolescent, they may develop mental health problems, like self-harm, substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation.
What is Considered Physical Abuse
Any harmful act committed against a child resulting in injury is considered physical abuse. This remains true even if the act was unintentional. Childhood physical abuse often leads to physical and mental health problems in adulthood. It’s a frequent cause of child morbidity and mortality.
Childhood physical abuse includes:
- Beating or hitting with a fist or object
- Burning with hot water, a cigarette, an iron, or another hot object
- Tying a child up
- Depriving a child of oxygen or holding them underwater
- Severely shaking a baby (shaken baby syndrome)
A physically abused child may show physical signs, including:
- Bone fractures, especially spiral fractures
- Other injuries that are often unexplainable
- Hair loss
Victims might hide specific injured body parts with clothing, or they may blame the injury on a sibling. Their explanation of an injury might change or not match the injury itself. Injuries in various stages of healing can also be a strong indicator of abuse.
What is Considered Neglect
Neglect is the most common form of child maltreatment in the U.S., occurring in 61 percent of child abuse cases. When a parent or other caregivers such as a daycare provider or babysitter doesn’t give a child food, shelter, clothes, medical care, or supervision to keep them safe, and they suffer harm or the potential for harm, neglect occurs.
Neglect can take on many forms, including:
- Denying a child shelter, food, or clothing
- Failing to seek medical care or treatment for the child when necessary
- Leaving a young child at home alone without a caregiver or with neglectful caregivers
- Leaving or locking a child in a room, closet, or other enclosure for hours on end
- Exposing a child to domestic abuse
- Not enrolling a child in school or denying them access to education
Unfortunately, neglect can result in:
- Developmental delays
- Cognitive impairments
- Emotional, social, and behavioral problems
- Sexual promiscuity
- Substance abuse
- Visual hallucinations
- Antisocial personality disorder
- Other mental health conditions
St. Louis Child Abuse FAQS
Knowing or suspecting that a perpetrator has victimized your child brings up many emotions and questions. We’ve worked with countless families going through the same or similar situations as you are. Here are some answers to the most pressing questions our St. Louis child abuse lawyers are asked. To get answers more specific to your case and learn more about your legal rights and those of your child, reach out to the Dixon Injury Firm today.
What Should You Do If Your Child Suffers Abuse?
First, the most crucial factor is your child’s imminent safety and well-being. If your child is in immediate danger or has been severely injured, call 911 or other emergency services.
If you are concerned that your child is the victim of abuse, maltreatment, or neglect, contact the police or local child protective services. Then, they can begin an investigation and discuss potential criminal charges with you.
Document what you witnessed or experienced that led to you finding out about the abuse—perhaps symptoms displayed by your child, statements your child made, something you observed, or something someone else told you. Next, reach out to a compassionate St. Louis child abuse attorney.
Even while a criminal case or investigation proceeds, our attorneys can research, investigate, and build a strong case for compensation on behalf of your child and family. The sooner you reach out, the better.
What Damages are Available in Child Abuse Cases?
Damages are the monetary representation of the harm and losses you or your child suffer as a result of the perpetrator’s actions. When you hire one of our seasoned St. Louis child abuse lawyers, we will review what damages apply specifically to your case.
However, most childhood abuse cases involve the following damages:
- Medical bills, including current bills for treatment and anticipated future medical bills for medication, surgery, doctor’s bills, hospitalization, counseling, among other expenses
- Decreased future earning capacity if your child’s injuries or condition will prevent them from earning a living when they get older
- Pain and suffering
- Mental distress
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Decreased quality of life
Often, child abuse survivors are also eligible to receive punitive damages. Courts only award these damages when they find the behavior of the defendant (perpetrator) especially egregious and wanton. While the above damages are meant to compensate the victim and their family, punitive damages are meant to punish the offender and prevent them and others from taking the same actions in the future.
How Does a St. Louis Child Abuse Attorney Help?
Suppose you know or suspect your child has suffered abuse. In that case, it’s imperative to secure the services of a skilled St. Louis child abuse lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney will thoroughly review the circumstances of your claim and conduct a comprehensive investigation. They can determine who is responsible and hold them accountable for the harm they caused. While they are handling your claim, you, your child, and the rest of your family can focus on healing and recovery and getting the professional help you need.
Why Should You Hire Dixon Injury Firm?
The Dixon Injury Firm treats childhood abuse survivors as they should—with care, compassion, and dignity. Our award-winning law firm maintains its phone lines 24/7 to address your questions and concerns. We’ve recovered more than $60 million in compensation for injury victims throughout the St. Louis area. In fact, we recently obtained $30 million in compensation in the case of a former United States Attorney found liable for inappropriate sexual misconduct with a minor. Our St. Louis child abuse attorneys have what it takes to stand up for your family, no matter who is liable for your child’s damages.
Call an Experienced St. Louis Child Abuse Lawyer Today
We know child abuse is a sensitive and challenging subject, and you can expect that our firm treats it appropriately while we fight for your rights. At the Dixon Injury Firm, we offer no-obligation, private case consultations to get your claim started. Contact us today by phone at (314) 208-2808 or Contact us online for yours.
The Dixon Injury Firm
9666 Olive Blvd #202,
St. Louis, MO 63132