Children and Domestic Violence
Many people envision domestic violence as physical assaults occurring between adults. While that encompasses a large chunk of domestic violence incidents, it by no means accounts for all of it. The fact is, Florida law defines domestic violence as any criminal behavior that leads to the injury or death of any family member at the hands of another family member, and, in fact, includes anyone living in the household under the statute. Individuals who have been dating for at least six months are covered by domestic violence laws, as well.
Florida Statistics Involving Children and Violence
Over the past three decades, between eight and ten thousand children have endured some form of domestic violence at the hands of a parent each year here in Florida, with the number of kids harmed doubling when violence at the hands of siblings is included. And that is just the data on the numbers that have been reported and cataloged. In just 2020, 37 children were victims of criminal homicide, with another eight victims of manslaughter. Nearly 700 minor children suffered forcible sexual offenses, with about two-thirds of cases involving forcible rape. Thousands endured physical assaults, with about a quarter of cases classified as aggravated assault. Many children also suffered threats, intimidation, and stalking.
The extent of abuse in families is far reaching, and includes sexual, physical, psychological, and emotional abuse directed at adults, elders, and, critically, children. While there are occasions when youth get inadvertently harmed while trying to deflect the violence directed toward another family member, there are far too many cases of abuse aimed specifically at minor children.
The Family Protection Act
There are mandatory criminal penalties in Florida for crimes that involve intentional family violence. For the first incident, perpetrators must serve five days in jail; for the second, the battery charge becomes a felony.
While every situation is different, experts point to certain behaviors that may be a clue that children are suffering abuse. Just some of those behaviors include:
- A sudden change in school performance, behavior, or attitude;
- A sense of alertness or watchfulness;
- Unexplained absences from school;
- Bruising, burns, or other marks that are frequently apparent;
- Fading bruises following a school absence;
- Apparent feelings of apprehension around parents;
- Shrinking as adults approach;
- Bed wetting and/or nightmares;
- Suicidal thoughts/actions;
- Parents offer conflicting explanations for injuries;
- Parents seem to reject the child;
- Parents employ harsh language and discipline toward the child.
At the Law Office of Julia Kefalinos our dedicated Miami domestic violence attorneys are particularly concerned about the most vulnerable among us: the children. If domestic violence is impacting a child in your life, we can help. Contact our Miami office for a confidential consultation today.