Parents and caregivers aren’t the only ones who perpetrate child abuse or neglect. Siblings can also abuse their siblings physically, emotionally, and sexually. New Jersey’s CPS agency, the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), takes instances of sibling abuse seriously and handles cases a little differently. If the allegations are substantiated, steps must be taken to protect the victim, treat the abusing child, and inform the family on how to prevent further harm. The investigation process can also differ, as a child perpetrator complicates standard protocol.
It is not uncommon for the parent to be unaware of abusive behavior between siblings. This poses a problem because the DCP&P can still point the finger at a parent who did not prevent the abuse from happening. So, caseworkers will assess whether the parents knew about the abusive behavior, whether they should have known, and what they did or could have done to prevent the abuse.
Also, the DCP&P and the court cannot hold children accountable for their abusive behaviors the same way they would an adult. Many experts agree children who perpetrate abuse do not fully realize the extent of their actions, and so the behavior is seen more as harmful than as abusive. Likewise, victims of sibling abuse may not fully understand what happened to them. As a result, child therapists and counselors are often called upon to work with the abusive sibling and the child victim to parse out the facts of the case.
Even if the parents were not the perpetrators of the abuse, they have a responsibility to see that the child abuser does not further harm the victim. The DCP&P will typically work with the parents on developing a safety plan that addresses the specific issues at play. The child offender may require intensive treatment or may need to be kept separate from the child victim. As each of these cases is unique, the facts and circumstances of your case will influence the investigation and the outcome of the case.
If you are facing involvement with CPS because of sibling contact, you should consult with an experienced New Jersey child abuse defense attorney. Often, parents aren’t aware of and therefore cannot prevent abuse between siblings. An attorney can help you understand your rights, explain how CPS handles these cases, and outline how CPS would need to gather evidence to confirm an allegation of abuse. From that point, you can work with your attorney to develop a plan for handling your case.
Do you need a New Jersey child abuse defense attorney? If so, Williams Law Group, LLC can explain how the laws apply to your case, advise you of your rights, and help you protect them. Located in Short Hills, New Jersey, Williams Law Group, LLC provides compassionate and dedicated legal services to Union, Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties, and the surrounding areas. Our knowledgeable attorneys handle divorce and family law, child custody, and child abuse/neglect cases. Call our office at (908) 810-1083, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation and ultimately get you connected with an experienced New Jersey divorce and child custody attorney.