Child abuse and neglect are not something to be taken lightly. What can seem to stem from a “good intention” can quickly turn into an abusive and traumatic experience for a child. If you suspect that a child is being abused, whether you are that child or not, it is important to follow these steps to ensure that the child is okay, especially if you are legally required to do so.
Step 1: Consider, “Am I legally required to report child abuse or neglect?”
It is important to realize that not all states have the same laws about reporting child abuse. Some states require certain parties to report abuse, should they suspect it, while others do not. Review Child Welfare Information Gateway’s “Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect” webpage to see if you qualify as being legally required to report abuse or neglect.
Step 2: Research, “How do I report child abuse or neglect?”
Now that you know whether or not you are required by law to report a suspected case of child abuse or neglect, here are a couple resources you can use to help you take this process to the next level.
According to their website, “The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the U.S. and Canada, the hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who—through interpreters—provide assistance in over 170 languages. The hotline offers crisis intervention, information, and referrals to… [approximately 55,000] emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are confidential.”
Childhelp is a wealth of information for those who want to learn more about child abuse/neglect and provide detailed information on how to assess your situation and take the steps necessary to ensure all parties involved are safe from abuse and neglect.
State Child Abuse and Neglect Agencies
Every state in America has governmental services, available to help you or someone you know who may be subject to child abuse or neglect. Child Welfare Information Gateway provides a detailed listing here of all of their contact information. Make sure to find the help you need through this webpage or call 9-1-1 if you or someone you know is in imminent danger.
Step 3: Take action.
Once you have found the information you need to ensure the known child is safe from abuse and/or neglect, it is important to take action. Are you required by law to report a suspected case of child abuse or neglect? Make sure to contact the appropriate, local authorities. Do you need to do more research to find the correct information? Dig deeper, and act fast; a child’s life may hang in the balance!
Once you have taken the steps necessary to ensure a child is safe, you can rest assured that you have done the right thing and that you are doing what is best and safest for the child.