Child abuse is taken seriously here in Minnesota and throughout the United States.
Every year, 3.6 million reports involving over 6.6 million children are made to child protection agencies, which equates to a child abuse report every 10 seconds. On average, we lose four to seven children every day because of child abuse and neglect – one of the worst records among industrialized nations across the world.
Sadly, our state also has its own struggles with child abuse.
In 2015, our legislature made some reforms to the state’s child-protective services, including a funding increase of $26 million annually. Last year, however, the Department of Human Services (DHS) said 39,500 Minnesota children were suspected of being abused or neglected. This number was a 25 percent increase from the previous year – and the second year in a row where such large increases were reported.
Why have child abuse reports increased so drastically after reforms were put into place? Is it because we have a horrific child abuse epidemic on our hands, or is something else going on here?
Understanding the Increase in Minnesota Child Abuse Reports
There are many different reasons why the number of child abuse reports could have increased in our state, but heightened awareness and mandated reporting are certainly part of it, and they could potentially be causing overzealousness.
After the major 2015 child-protective service reforms, child abuse and neglect were on everyone’s mind. With more attention being paid to child abuse in general, it makes sense that people might be more alert to the signs of child abuse and make reports.
On top of that, there are certain individuals who are required to report child abuse. Minnesota law states that
“A person who knows or has reason to believe a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused…shall immediately report the information to the local welfare agency, agency responsible for assessing or investigating the report, police department, county sheriff, tribal social services agency, or tribal police department” if they are
- Healing arts professionals;
- Social service workers;
- Hospital administrators;
- Psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and counselors;
- Child care providers;
- Law enforcement, probation, or correctional service providers; or
- Members of the clergy.
In addition to mandated reporters, voluntary reporting is also allowed by those who are not required by the law to report.
So by combining the amount of mandated reporters with raised awareness about child abuse, we might have at least part of the cause for our staggering increase in child abuse reports.
Fighting Child Abuse Accusations and Charges
An increase in reporting doesn’t just mean that more kids are being recognized as potential child abuse victims, but that more people are being accused of the crime as well. A child abuse accusation can be extremely detrimental to all aspects of someone’s life, including your employment, your housing situation, and your personal and professional relationships.
That’s why it’s especially important to contact a knowledgeable Minnesota child abuse lawyer in the event that you are accused or charged with child abuse. Right now, our state is taking child abuse more seriously than ever, and depending on the severity of the alleged abuse and injuries, child abuse can be a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, or a felony offense, which can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
If you have questions about child abuse allegations, reach out to an experienced Minnesota defense attorney to beat your charges, fight for your rights, and clear your good name.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).