Child Protection Laws in Connecticut

Child protection laws are confusing and complex, but they are made that way for a reason. There is a need to be specific in these laws to separate the ill-intentioned from the accidental. Every parent has the right to raise their children, but it is possible to lose that right. A home may be deemed unsafe due to abuse or neglect. If that happens in Connecticut, a child can only be removed for a 96-hour hold unless an order of temporary custody (OTC) is signed by a judge.

Just as the child has the right to a safe home, the parents or guardians have the right to argue that their home is safe. If an OTC is granted, the parent or guardian has the right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days. If the Department of Children and Families (DCF) cannot prove that the child was in immediate danger at that hearing, the child will be returned to their parent or guardian. In my time practicing juvenile law, I have represented both children and parents. If you are in the West Haven area, contact me today for a consultation about your case.

Child Abuse and Neglect Definitions

Child protection laws exist for important and obvious reasons, but they are often confusing and specific. If you are wondering about abusive or neglectful behavior, you can always contact a juvenile law or DCF attorney or even contact DCF directly. Connecticut's DCF website provides child abuse and neglect definitions. To provide you with some clarity, I have listed those definitions below:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse would be a child with physical, non-accidental injuries that were caused due to maltreatment, or a child with injuries that do not match the reason given for them.

Sexual Abuse/Exploitation

Sexual abuse and/or exploitation is an incident where a child is exposed to non-accidental sexual behavior.

Emotional Maltreatment

Emotional maltreatment, which is a form of abuse, refers to any statements, acts, or threats against a child which would negatively affect their well-being or development.

Physical Neglect

Physical neglect is any abuse, abandonment, or denial of care (whether physical, educational, emotional, or moral). It can also refer to living in conditions that negatively affect a child’s well-being.

Medical Neglect

Medical neglect is the denial or unreasonable delay by the person caring for the child to provide medical, dental, or mental health services when necessary.

Educational Neglect

Educational neglect means not providing adequate education to children between the ages of 5 and 18 if they are not a high school graduate. This also includes failure to ensure regular school attendance.

Emotional Neglect

Emotional neglect means not providing proper care and attention or failing to respond to a child’s emotional needs in a way that would negatively affect development by the person charged with taking care of them.

Moral Neglect

Moral neglect is allowing a child to engage in illegal or reprehensible activities by the person who is in charge of caring for them.

Child Abuse Statistics

Child abuse and neglect are horrible crimes that affect too many children. In 2017, kids 3 and under had an abuse rate of 15 per 1000, compared to:

  • 10 per 1,000 for kids between 4 and 7,
  • 8 per 1,000 for those between 8 and 11,
  • 7 per 1,000 for kids aged 12 to 15, and
  • 5 per 1,000 for 16 and 17-year-olds.

Being aware of the definitions of child abuse and neglect can help a person to avoid accidentally engaging or be able to spot abuse and neglect more easily. If a child you know needs representation, or if you are facing removal of your children and feel that it is unjust, you will need a Connecticut attorney who is experienced in juvenile law and DCF issues. Contact my office today if you have any questions on this matter.


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