Should Abused Children be Held Responsible For Their Actions When They Harm Others? (Pt 2)

Welcome back and thanks for joining us for this two part series on whether or not a victim of abuse should be held accountable for the abuse they inflict on others. If you read the previous article, you know that in most cases, children who are abused do not go on to become violent. In fact, in most cases they go on to become victims again and again, often growing up and entering into relationships where they become victims of domestic violence. 

An young boy with his fist up and an angry look on his face

For this reason we want to be clear about the fact that being abused as a child doesn’t mean you automatically become an abuser of others. Many children who suffer abuse when they’re young are later assumed to be abusive because of what they suffered, when in fact they have never been anything more than a victim. But what happens when that violence does drive them to harm another person? At what point do those actions become something they should be held accountable for?

A young child victim may not fully understand what they are doing

Children who act out abuse on other children that they themselves have experienced, may not realize the extent of what they’re doing. They may not also have a full grasp of the fact that what they’re doing is wrong. After all, someone else has done the same to them. In an article published on the Child Mind Institute site, clinical psychologist, Dr. Kristin Carothers says that parents need to think about how their behaviors at home might influence their children. “The way they speak to their children, the way they speak to their spouses, the way they handle anger – and to be realistic about whether or not this might be something that’s been modeled for the child.”

A child who abuses others because they’re a victim of abuse at home, could result in their parents being prosecuted. Here in Michigan, a parent who verbally, physically or sexually abuses a child is likely to face a two pronged response from authorities. On the one hand they’re going to be investigated by CPS, which could result in removal of their children from their home, and possibly even termination of their parental rights. On the other hand, police will also investigate any suspected abuse, and parents believed to be harming their children will most likely face criminal charges as well.

Michigan law is very clear about when children should be held accountable

For many years in Michigan, a person was considered to be an adult, when it came to criminal prosecution, at the age of 17. However, recently Governor Whitmer signed a package of bills into law that raised the age of who is considered an adult under the criminal justice system from 17 to 18 years old. But that only applies to people being prosecuted as adults. A minor can still face prosecution for crimes they commit in Michigan.

Minors in Michigan can be tried and convicted as juveniles, if they have committed crimes. If they’re found to be guilty, or they admit to committing a crime, a judge could require the juvenile to be placed on probation, attend anger management classes or substance abuse counseling, perform community service, pay back victims for any losses they experienced, and be sent to live at a juvenile facility. Children as young as 11 serve time in juvenile justice facilities in Michigan.

Being accused of child abuse is very scary, but you’re not alone.

A child that harms others can sometimes bring unwanted attention to the parents, who are often assumed to be guilty of abuse themselves. Although this certainly isn’t true in every child-on-child abuse situation, the assumption is often that the parents are at fault. This can lead to invasive investigations, false allegations of abuse, and even wrongful convictions.

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.