Each State within the United States is responsible for creating and enforcing laws related to child abuse.
Role in Creating Child Abuse Laws
The State plays the primary role in creating, maintaining, and enforcing child abuse laws in its jurisdiction. Therefore, the definition of child abuse, as well as child abuse laws regarding reporting abuse and mandatory reporting, may vary a great deal from State to State. Each State has the ability to include or exclude aspects of child abuse laws which other states may choose to include or disregard in their child abuse laws.
Oftentimes, the Federal Government may maintain a large influence on the child abuse laws of a State due to the financial funding that the Federal Government awards states in the form of grants. In order to receive these grants, a State must meet certain eligibility requirements. States that rely a great deal on Federal funding may alter their child abuse laws in order to meet the eligibility requirements.
Therefore, although the State Government has the final say in creating and enforcing laws related to child abuse, the Federal Government will often have its beliefs and wishes established in State Governments. States are also responsible for determining the appropriate punishments for individuals who are responsible for child abuse and people who fail to report child abuse.
Varying Definitions of Abuse and Neglect
Every State within the United States has the responsibility to develop a comprehensive and thorough definition of child abuse. Different states may maintain different ideas on what they believe constitutes child abuse. This definition becomes extremely essential when prosecuting an alleged child abuser. Therefore, it is essential to create a sound and complete definition regarding the behavior and the actions that make up child abuse.
Every State has a basic foundation for their definition of child abuse, which usually includes acts that cause physical harm, psychological harm, sexual harm, and neglect.
Differences in Mandatory Reporting
All of the states within the United States have developed some form of mandatory reporting law in order to assist in ensuring that children are provided with protection from physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect. Mandatory reporting laws regarding child abuse and neglect will vary a great deal from State to State.
Some states have developed mandatory reporting laws that only require individuals who are employed in specific professions to report suspected child abuse. Other states make it a requirement for any individual who suspects that a child may be suffering from abuse to report it to the appropriate authorities.
The individuals who are required to report child abuse in one State may not have a legal obligation to report suspected abuse in another State. Some states may choose to specify professions that must partake in mandatory reporting that other states do not include in their mandatory reporting laws.
Each State within the United States has the right and responsibility to establish the penalties that individuals will face as a result of subjecting a child to physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect. Many states take into account the severity of the abuse, as well as the victim’s age, when determining a fitting punishment for an individual who has inflicted abuse upon a child. Penalties for abuse often include hefty fines, jail time, or both fines and jail time. This will depend on the State in which the perpetrator resides, as well as the type and severity of the abuse.