A U.S. Army major and his wife are accused of abusing foster kids for years, breaking their bones, force-feeding them hot sauce, and denying them water.
John and Carolyn Jackson of Mount Holly, New Jersey, even allegedly used one of their biological kids to guard the toilet bowls so the foster children couldn't try to quench their thirst, New York's WNBC-TV reports.
The two are being charged with a whopping 17 counts related to their alleged abuse.
Child abuse broadly covers any type of cruelty towards a child, including mental abuse, physical harm, neglect, and sexual abuse or exploitation.
Like this case, a child abuse case can include assault and battery charges.
In many states, certain people are legally required to report abuse. But the sad reality is that many child abuse cases go unreported.
In the Jacksons' case, one of the children allegedly reported the abuse. That's right, the kid had to do it alone. After finding out, the foster mom allegedly beat the child with a belt, reports WNBC.
While child abuse laws are strong and aim to protect children, the justice system is set up to also protect those who are wrongfully accused. Defenses the Army major and his wife might use include:
- False allegations. In past media interviews, the Jackson family denied the allegations saying investigators "brainwashed" the kids by telling them they were abused, according to WNBC.
- The injury is a result of a medical condition. But this will be tough because the couple allegedly gave police false medical histories or blamed the broken bones on the kids' biological mother. Real medical records can help. False ones, not so much.
- The parental right to discipline. The couple allegedly told their three biological children that they were punishing the foster kids to "train" them how to behave. Taking away dessert is mean, but understandable. Depriving a kid of food and water, however, takes it way too far.
Most devastating, if the foster-child abuse allegations are true, it's the kids who will suffer just as much as the couple. A child who has been abused or neglected can experience a range of problems, like relationship difficulties, lack of trust of adults, emotional outbursts, low performance at school, depression, anxiety, and anger.
If you suspect a child is being abused, go with your gut and report it immediately.
- NJ Army Major, Wife In Child Abuse Case Free On Bail (New York's WCBS-TV)
- Newborn Left on Beach Despite Safe Haven Law (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- How Hard Can You Spank a Child? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Foster Care (FindLaw)