Child Abuse in Ohio

Since it is a politically charged issue in our country, allegations of child abuse have the potential to turn your life upside down in many ways. Not only will you have to deal with the criminal aspect, but there may also be a debilitating effect on your social and professional life.

Child abuse is a very difficult charge to defend against, considering there are subjective elements which are not uncommon in Ohio domestic violence issues. With all that you have to lose, it is vital that you understand the laws in place and can develop a proper defense strategy with an attorney to fight these charges.

In the state of Ohio, there is a specific definition of what constitutes an “abused child.” Ohio Revised Code §2151.031 states that an “abused child” is any child who:

• Is the victim of sexual activity;
• Is endangered through a parent, guardian, or custodian creating substantial risk to the health or safety of the child;
• Exhibits evidence of any physical or mental injury or death, inflicted other than by accidental means; or
• Suffers physical or mental injury that harms or threatens to harm the child’s health or welfare.

Expanding more on the endangerment of a child, Ohio Revised Code §2919.22 states that no person shall do any of the following to child under eighteen years of age or a mentally or physically handicapped child under the age of twenty-one:

• Abuse the child;
• Torture or cruelly abuse the child;
• Administer corporal punishment, or other physical disciplinary measure, or physically restrain the child in a cruel manner or for a prolonged period, which punishment, discipline, or restraint is excessive under the circumstances and creates substantial risk for the child;
• Entice, coerce, use or allow a child to participate in material that is obscene or sexually oriented;
• Operating a motor vehicle under the influence with a minor in the car.

If convicted of child abuse, the sentencing could vary depending of the specifics of your particular case. Child abuse convictions will almost always be considered felonies. In the state of Ohio, a felony ranges from the least serious, a felony in the fifth degree (up to six months in prison and / or a fine of up to $2500), to the most serious, a felony of the first degree (up to 10 years in prison and / or a fine of up to $20,000).

Ohio law does explicitly state that there are situations in which the religion of the household could keep charges from being handed down. In Ohio Revised Code §2919.22, it states that it is not a violation of a duty of care, protection, or support when the parent, guardian, custodian, or person having custody or control of a child treats the physical or mental illness or defect of the child by spiritual means through prayer alone, in accordance with the tenets of a recognized religious body. This particular statement has been used as a defense in many child abuse cases.

With all the possible scenarios with which a child abuse allegation can stem, discussing your case with a qualified criminal defense lawyer may provide some insight on how to go about fighting these charges and get back on with your life.

Tips For Preparing Your Only Child to Become a Sibling

Having your second child is an exciting time, however it can also be stressful for your first child, who suddenly goes from being your one and only child, to a big brother or sister. Whether your only child is 2 or 10 there will be an adjustment period for him or her. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do as parents to help prepare them for their new role. Here are just a few ideas:

Big brothers and big sisters are special. Speak in positive terms to them about what it means to be a big sis or big brother. Really play up their new found role and help them to feel special and needed. You will want to discuss how they can be your helper and how much the baby will need them. You may want to assign them a specific task, something age appropriate. For a younger child, fetching diapers for you might be a good one. Help your child to appreciate how much you need their help. At the same time, don’t go overboard and talk about the baby too much. Your older child is unique and needs to understand that your love for him is secure.

Don’t plan any other major changes. This would not be a good time to introduce any other major changes into their life, such as potty training, different sleeping arrangements or any other similar changes. You don’t want to overwhelm them nor add any added stress to their lives or yours. If your toddler is still nursing, there is no reason to stop during your pregnancy or even afterwards when the new baby arrives. Many moms have found that tandem nursing (breastfeeding siblings who are not twins) is very rewarding and a wonderful way to ease the transition for the older child. When they are assured of your place in their lap, they are not as likely to be jealous or resent the new baby.

Talk to them. Children understand more than we think. So, spend some time talking with them about the big event. You can tell them about what will happen when you go to have the baby, where they will be staying, and what they can expect. If you are having the baby at home or in a birthing center, you might want to consider allowing them to be with you at the birth. Children who are close by the mother during her labor are more likely to view the new baby as “ours” instead of an alien intruder! Some parents have found it helpful to read books that talk about getting a new baby in the house. These often explain how new babies need constant care and feeding.

Get help. Going from one to two (or two to three, and on and on!) is a wonderful time to ask friends, family, Grandparents and others for a little help. While you and the baby are resting, could someone play with your toddler, arrange a playdate or take them to the park for a couple of hours? A little extra one on one time with a beloved adult can make up for the fact that you are going to be giving the toddler a little less attention for awhile. This is a time for Dad to step up too. While he does need time to bond with the newborn, this can be a time of growth in the older child as he embraces Dad as someone who can also meet his needs.

Watch your language. When the baby arrives, be careful how you phrase things. If your older child asks you for something and you can’t help them because you’re caring for the baby, don’t “blame” it on the baby. Say something like, “My hands are busy now, but I can play with you in a few minutes. Why don’t you come snuggle next to me and I’ll read you a story?”

Another tip that some moms have found helpful is to talk up the older child to the baby. We moms love to go ga-ga over our babies, but why not brag on the older sibling? “Ooh look at what big brother is doing! He’s building a block tower and it’s sooooo tall!” This can make the older child’s heart swell with pride.

Don’t feel guilty. It’s very common for moms to feel guilty about displacing their older child, but children have been dealing with the arrival of siblings since the beginning of time! They will be just fine, and will gain a playmate and perhaps a lifelong friend. Be positive about the transition and your child will likely pick up on your emotions.