- Some of the most important child advocacy laws are those intended to protect children from abuse or neglect. The federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act was enacted in 1974, but has been amended several times to reflect the changing needs of the public. The act provides federal funding for state agencies to investigate and prosecute child abuse cases. It also provides treatment for victims. Punishment for those found guilty of child abuse varies from state to state, with common punishments ranging from removing the children from the household to prison sentences for the offenders.
- Many child advocacy laws protect the rights of juvenile offenders. A juvenile offender is a person accused of criminal activity who is too young to try as an adult, based on state-imposed age limits. This age varies from state to state, but is usually 17 or 18. For serious offenses, such as homicide or sexual assault, offenders younger than this age sometimes are tried as adults. Laws allow juvenile offender records to be sealed once the child reaches the age of adulthood for his state. Other laws suggest sentences for juvenile offenders should focus more on rehabilitation than on punishment.
- Custody battles can affect a child's well-being. Courts try to reach a custody agreement that is beneficial to the child. In some cases, where neither parent has been deemed unfit, custody battles can take years to resolve. Child advocacy laws help the courts make custody decisions more quickly. Often considered legally incompetent until their late teens, children rarely have the ability to offer their opinions in a custody battle. Several states allow the judge or one of the parents to request that the child have access to individual counsel. This counsel is responsible for helping to determine a custody agreement that is in the best interest of the child.