Comments for Does this count as child abuse?

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Dec 21, 2007
Too many variables . . .
by: Darlene Barriere - webmaster

Samantha, there are too many variables answer this question with a pure "yes" or "no."

If the 17-year-old was a sibling, and this was a one-time incident against you, the 15-year-old, the fact that a parent did not intervene does not generally fall under the definition of child abuse. If, however, it could be shown that over the course of time there was a pattern of assaultive behaviour on the part of the older sibling and the parent stood idly by, thereby continually failing to protect the younger child, it could be argued that the parent was being abusive by not keeping that child safe from harm. That would be considered neglect, which is child abuse. It could also be considered neglect if the younger child was considerably younger or in some way disabled and unable to defend him or herself. That does not appear to be the case in your situation. In a court of law, each case would be judged on it own merits.

If this assault was committed by someone other than a sibling, again, the age difference of only two years would likely come into play, and therefore would not be considered child abuse if the parent refused to intervene.

Samantha, what this 17-year-old did to you was assault. I don't know the laws in Texas, but in some states, you yourself have the option of filing a complaint with the authorities against this person. You would have to make a statement and show your proof. An investigation would be launched, including interviewing your parent who was present, and if the prosecution felt there was enough evidence, charges could be laid against that 17-year-old. If this 17-year-old is your sibling, although it seems unfair, the likelihood of successfully having a charge laid for a one-time incident is much less than if the person was someone other than a family member. But I am not an attorney.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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