If you know or you suspect that a child is in danger of being abused or worse, you have a duty to protect that child. Abuse should never, never be considered a private family matter. It should never be kept secret. It is far better to report what you suspect and be wrong, than to be right and find out later that you should have made a report and didn’t but the child suffered for it. If you feel that you may need the help for yourself and your own child, please know that THERE IS NO SHAME IN ASKING FOR HELP. THERE IS HELP OUT THERE FOR YOU. You just have to know where to find it.
One resource I’d like you to check out is the American Humane Association (click here). Here is some information from them below on how to report suspected child abuse, and I have highlighted the 24/7 hotline in red:
How to Report Suspected Child Maltreatment
Anyone can report suspected child abuse or neglect. Reporting abuse or neglect can protect a child and get help for a family—it may even save a child’s life. In some States, any person who suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report. To see how your State addresses this issue, read the Information Gateway publication, Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Child Welfare Information Gateway is not a hotline for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect, and it is not equipped to accept reports of this nature. Information Gateway is not equipped to offer crisis counseling. As a service of the Children’s Bureau in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Information Gateway does not have the authority to intervene or advise in personal situations.
Childhelp® is a national organization that provides crisis assistance and other counseling and referral services. The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with professional crisis counselors who have access to a database of 55,000 emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1.800.4.A.CHILD (1.800.422.4453).
If you need help with personal or family situations, you may wish to visit our resources on Where to Find Help.
If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, or if you are a child who is being maltreated, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency so professionals can assess the situation. Many States have a toll-free number to call to report suspected child abuse or neglect. To find out where to call, consult the Information Gateway publication, State Child Abuse Reporting Numbers.
If you’re not sure if you’re a mandated reporter for abuse, here is the clarifying list:
- Social workers
- Teachers, principals, and other school personnel
- Physicians, nurses, and other health-care workers
- Counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals
- Child care providers
- Medical examiners or coroners
- Law enforcement officers
- Some other professions frequently mandated across the States
include commercial film or photograph processors (in 12 States,
Guam, and Puerto Rico), substance abuse counselors (in 14
States), and probation or parole officers (in 17 States).2
employees, and volunteers at entities that provide organized
activities for children, such as camps, day camps, youth centers,
and recreation centers, are required to report in 11 States.3
Seven States and the District of Columbia include domestic
violence workers on the list of mandated reporters, while seven
States and the District of Columbia include animal control
or humane officers.4
Court-appointed special advocates are mandatory reporters in 10 States.5Members of the clergy now
are required to report in 27 States and Guam.6
Four States now have designated as mandatory reporters
faculty, administrators, athletics staff, and other employees and
volunteers at institutions of higher learning, including public and
private colleges and universities and vocational and technical
schools.7In approximately 18 States and Puerto Rico, any person who
suspects child abuse or neglect is required to report. Of
these 18 States, 16 States and Puerto Rico specify certain
professionals who must report but also require all persons to
report suspected abuse or neglect, regardless of profession.8
New Jersey and Wyoming require all persons to report without
specifying any professions. In all other States, territories, and the
District of Columbia, any person is permitted to report. These
voluntary reporters of abuse are often referred to as “permissive
- To find statute information for a
particular State, go to
Please click this link because it’s very informational. It’s from childwelfare.gov:
Next, what do you actually “do” if you suspect abuse?
If you suspect that a child is being abused, it’s your responsibility to contact your local child protective services agency, police, hospital, or emergency hotline. If necessary, you may remain anonymous. The child’s safety is the immediate issue: you could save his or her life by removing the child from a dangerous situation as soon as possible.
If you think you may have abused your own child, or you’re worried that you might, make sure the child is somewhere safe away from you, and then speak with a friend, relative, or health care professional. It may be that you just need someone to talk to or you may want to seek counseling. Speaking with a trained professional can be an effective way to work through the reasons behind your abusive feelings.
If you suspect that someone you know, such as a babysitter or childcare provider, is abusing a child, keep the child away from that person until authorities have been notified. If you suspect the person may abuse the child again, make sure any future contact between the child and that person is supervised. Never threaten a person or take the law into your own hands. Let the legal system decide an appropriate punishment for an abuser.
Children need us to be their voice. We can’t be afraid to be wrong. It’s all right to be wrong. I would far rather call and be wrong and hurt the adult’s feelings than hold back and do nothing because “I don’t know what happened that day.” And if you’re the one who needs help… if you’re afraid you might harm a child you love… please ask for help. Beg for help until you get it. Please.
- Phone Numbers and Hotlines to Report Child Abuse in Kentucky (alcoholism.answers.com)
- Information for Contacting the Missouri Child Abuse Hotline (alcoholism.answers.com)
- Want to stop abuse of adults with disabilities or the elderly? Check out this new guide (crimeblog.dallasnews.com)
- 7 Reasons Children Don’t Disclose Abuse (projecteve.com)
- Contacting the Texas Child Abuse Hotline (alcoholism.answers.com)
- Signs of Physical of Abuse in Children (pediatrics.answers.com)
- Need to Report Child Abuse? Best Numbers and Places to Call (alcoholism.answers.com)
- Using a Hotline to Report Child Abuse in California (alcoholism.answers.com)