Child Abuse in New Mexico
Child abuse is not always the same in every culture. Here, we will explain how New Mexico defines child abuse.
Who is considered an abused child?
An abused child is a child who has suffered physical abuse, emotional abuse, or has been neglected by their parent, guardian, or caretaker. It is also abuse when the parent, guardian or caretaker has let the abuse happen by not protecting the child.
What is physical abuse?
Physical abuse happens any time the child has skin bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, burns, broken bones, brain injury, or death. When you hit a child, it is considered abuse no matter the reasoning.
Examples of physical abuse:
- holding someone against their will
- throw against the wall
- carrying against their will
- twisting arms
- pulling hair
What is neglect?
The law in New Mexico also considers neglect a form of child abuse. Neglect is when you leave a child alone in a car, building, house, or any other place that has chemicals or other materials that could be dangerous to the child. These situations will be considered evidence of child abuse.
At what age can my child legally stay home alone?
In New Mexico, there is no legal age that a child can be home alone. Here is a guide to determine whether you think your child is ready:
- Can my child lock and unlock the door?
- Can my child use the telephone?
- Can my child prepare a snack?
- Can my child read and write?
- Can my child follow directions?
- Does my child use good judgment?
- Is my child confident?
- Is my child fearful?
- Is my child stressed?
- Can my child reach me in an emergency?
- Do I have a backup person my child can contact if I cannot be reached?
- Does my employer allow me to make personal phone calls to check on my child?
- Do we live in a neighborhood where my child will be safe and feel comfortable?
- Is there someone my child can go to in the neighborhood in the event of an emergency?
(from the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin website)
What is emotional and verbal abuse?
Emotional abuse is when a child is treated badly and their psychological growth is impaired because of it. When a child is emotionally abused they are disciplined for behaviors that would be considered normal like smiling, speaking, or exploring.
Examples of emotional and verbal abuse:
- being sarcastic
- name calling
- overly criticizing
Who can report child abuse?
Anyone. It is the right and responsibility for anyone to report if they suspect a child is being abused. If you suspect a child is being abused you can call 1-800-797-3260.
What happens if someone reports me for child abuse?
In New Mexico, CYFD (Children Youth and Families Department) investigates every child abuse and neglect claim, to evaluate if the situation is dangerous or not. This means anyone can report abuse, but trained workers investigate each claim. If you are being investigated for child abuse, the child may be temporarily placed outside of your home; however, it is not the intention of CYFD to remove your child.
If the caseworker does find it necessary to place your child in another home, they will try to first place them with a family member, but CYFD intends to keep children with their parents as much as possible. CYFD caseworkers are there to help you, and to find a way to keep your child with you. If you are being investigated by CYFD, it is best to comply with the case worker to work together for the benefit of your children.
Child abuse is serious. If you are convicted of child abuse in New Mexico, you can spend up to 18 years in prison.
Child Welfare Information Gateway of the US Department of Health & Human Services