Child Abuse Laws in West Virginia: These are Child Abuse Laws for the State of West Virginia
Child abuse is generally defined as the physical, sexual or mental abuse of a child or neglect of a child. This kind of abuse and neglect makes the child emotionally disturbed, and its effect can last for many years, seriously degrading the child’ life. Child abuse is a major crime, and hence, severe action is taken against those indulging in child abuse.
The following is the law in the State of West Virginia that deals with child abuse.
The West Virginia Child Abuse Law
West Virginia has framed the rules of procedure for Child Abuse and Neglect proceedings. This is in line with West Virginia Code Chapter 49 that deals with Child Welfare. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources is responsible for handling all issues related to child abuse and neglect in the state.
Child Abuse Definition
A child is defined as one who is below the age of eighteen years.
Abuse is defined as physical or mental abuses done with or without knowledge of the parent. It also refers to the sexual abuse of exploitation — sale of a child, Domestic violence against a child, injury due to corporal punishment.
Child abuse and neglect services
The scope of child abuse and neglect services in the State of West Virginia includes:
- Protecting abused and neglected children and promoting their welfare.
- Taking actions on conditions that lead to child abuse and neglect.
- Preventing the removal of children from families and helps families to resolve problems.
- Provide services to children removed from their family and try to help them unite with their families.
- When reunifying is not possible, place the child in a suitable adoptive home.
- Ensuring the proper care of children who have been placed in the custody of the department or any other third party.
Anyone, whether from the department or a concerned citizen can file a petition regarding child abuse and neglect. When such a petition is filed, investigation and hearings will take place.
Even before the hearing, if the safety of the child is at risk, the department may take the child into emergency custody and place it under child protective care.
The hearings that would be conducted include:
- Adjudicatory hearing: to determine whether a child has been abused or neglected
- Preliminary hearing: to decide if there is a danger to the child and whether the child should be placed in protective custody or not.
- Permanency hearing: is conducted for a permanent solution to address the child’s future. A decision on whether to place the child in a foster home or for adoption is discussed. This can lead to permanent placement, where the child is either returned to the home if everything is adjudged to be fine, placed in the permanent custody of a foster parent, or has been handed over to someone else’s guardianship.
According to West Virginia statutes, the case will remain on the court’s docket until a permanent placement for the child has been completed.
During a hearing, only the child, parties and counsel shall be allowed along with anyone else as the court determines. All court records and medical records shall be kept confidential.
Testimony of children shall not be taken if it is likely to affect their health. Also, whenever such testimony is taken, it will be done by the judge in-camera. The judge may take the testimony on his/her own or may permit counsel for the parties. The parents may be permitted by the judge.
Testimony may also be taken in closed-circuit television.
When a child is taken away from the parents and placed under safe custody, visitation rights shall be decided by the judge.