Kentucky leads the nation in mistreatment and neglect of children, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ranked as the top state in child abuse for two years in a row, the causes include drug addiction, mental illness and poverty.
Between 2018 and 2019 the volume of child abuse or neglect cases in the Bluegrass State increased, as reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal. The reported incidents went from 22.2 for every 1,000 children in 2018 to 23.5 in 2019.
Spotting signs of child abuse or neglect
Child abuse or neglect may go unnoticed until a serious physical or mental health problem begins to develop. Bruises and scratch marks generally indicate physical mistreatment; other forms of abuse or neglect, however, may not always display easily observed signs.
As described by WebMD, signs of neglect can include children wearing the same unwashed clothes or not receiving medical attention. Poor weight management or unusual eating habits may point to a parent having failed in providing nutritional necessities. Stress, depression or poor performance in school could indicate a child experiencing neglect or emotional abuse at home.
Children may not talk about mistreatment because they fear that they may cause a parent or other relative to get in trouble. Building a trusting relationship with a child, however, could help in uncovering mistreatment at home or while visiting a noncustodial parent.
Requesting a child custody modification
Kentucky’s shared parenting approach generally gives divorced couples equal custody of their children. When a parent suspects an ex-spouse of child abuse or neglect, however, he or she may request a court order to modify a custody arrangement.
A modification may require evidence of mistreatment or other harmful issues. When a noncustodial parent takes full custody, the amount of child support order may also require modification.
Some children visit a noncustodial parent who has remarried and lives with an extended family. Evidence of mistreatment by a member of a blended family group may provide cause for a cancellation of visitation rights.