Should Abused Children be Held Responsible For Their Actions When They Harm Others? (Pt 1)

Anyone who has ever parented a child knows that it can be stressful. Kids, especially when they struggle with behavioral and emotional issues, or with mental health conditions, can test the limits of your patience in ways that nothing else on earth does. After all, they’re kids. Which means they haven’t yet learned to curb their impulses, or make mature decisions. They don’t fully grasp the idea of consequences, and their brains still have a lot of developing to do.  If they’re victims of abuse, they have even more challenges to overcome!

A little boy reaching out to a little girl on the bus. She is hiding her face, as if she may be protecting herself from something.

At what point do those children start being held accountable for their choices and actions? At what age do they actually grasp the notion of thinking through their actions, and making decisions based on that logic sequence? Is there even an age limit for that particular stage in development, or are there other factors that influence how a child processes information and makes choices that affect their actions? And is a victim of child abuse truely responsible for what they do to others if they were victims themselves?

Many factors affect a person’s capacity for violence, beyond being a victim of abuse.

According to research published by Harvard’s Medical School, several studies have attempted to track what makes a person more likely to commit acts of violence. Mental health plays a significant role, it seems, although when coupled with substance abuse there is a sharp rise in the percentage of people likely to hurt another person. But what about childhood abuse? Does being the victim of abuse by someone else make you more likely to hurt others?

In addition to mental illness, environmental and personal stressors, and factors like age and gender, violence experienced in childhood does in fact play a role. “The risk of violence rises with exposure to aggressive family fights during childhood, physical abuse by a parent, or having a parent with a criminal record.” But at what point does your childhood stop being an excuse for poor behavioral choices? Does it ever?

People abused as children are more likely to be abused as adults!

Recent research shows that people who suffered abuse as children, whether it was physical, sexual, psychological (or emotional), or verbal, are actually more likely to suffer further abuse at the hands of a loved one in adulthood. This usually happens in the form of domestic abuse, which can include stalking, sexual assault, and physical violence. Domestic abuse can also refer to ‘gas lighting’, which is a form of emotional abuse, and verbal abuse like threats, ridicule and bullying.

This flies in the face of the theory that people who experience violence in childhood usually become abusive themselves. So while it certainly seems to be a possibility, and data shows that it may be more likely, it’s not a given. But what about accountability? Does having been a victim of abuse mean you aren’t at fault when you harm someone else, simply because you were a victim yourself?

Being accused of harming a child requires a complex defense

Join us next time for a look at what mental health professionals and other experts have to say on this topic. Until then, know that being accused of hurting a child is a very serious crime in Michigan. CPS involvement in your family life is no joke! And regardless of what may have happened in your own past, you’re going to need the help of experts to protect your rights and defend your future freedom.
At The Kronzek Firm, our highly skilled and well respected CPS defense attorneys have spent decades helping the people of Michigan to protect their children from government overreach, and over-zealous CPS workers. We are available 24/7 at 866 766 5245. If you have questions, or a CPS worker has contacted you about allegations made against you, call us immediately. We can help.