Child Abuse Is Against The Law
If child abuse is evident, or there is an immediate risk or danger to a child, you should contact 911 or police immediately.
Abuse constitutes any physical injury to a child which has been caused by other than accidental means including injury which appears to be at variance with the explanation. Abuses includes reckless and negligent use of drugs during pregnancy.
Neglect is negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child which causes actual harm or substantial risk of harm to a child's health, welfare and safety.
Sexual abuse is any incident of sexual contact including, but not limited to rape, sodomy, incest, sexual penetration with a foreign object, sexual exploitation for purposes of pornography, or prostitution.
Threat of Harm
Threat of harm includes all activities, conditions and persons which place the child at substantial risk of physical harm or sexual abuse, neglect, or mental injury.
If the child abuse is severe or there is an immediate risk to the child, you should contact 911 immediately. The first thing you can do is read this handout and then take the next most appropriate step. After you have read the entire handout there are three generally accepted steps you can take when you suspect child abuse. The first step is to contact your local branch of Services to Children and Families (CPS) and discuss the situation. Contacting CPS does not automatically result in an investigation. CPS is available to discuss the situation and to offer you their opinion regarding what you should do next. They may discuss what will most likely happen next. In some cases CPS will direct you to contact your local law enforcement agency. This will most likely happen during evenings, weekends and holidays.
If there is evidence of severe abuse, an immediate danger or threat, contact 911 immediately. For less immediate dangers, there are several steps you can take. Tell the child that you believe them and that you are going help. Tell them you will also need to contact people who can help. Respect the privacy of the child. The child will need to tell their story in detail later to the investigators, so don't press the child for details. Remember, you need only suspect abuse to make a report. Don't display horror, shock, or disapproval of parents, child, or the situation. Don't place blame or make judgments about the parent or child. Tell the child that he or she will be talking to people who will help: a CPS Child Protective Services worker or the police. It is O.K. for now to believe the child if she/he reports sexual abuse. It is rare for a young child to lie about sexual abuse. An investigation is intended to either substantiate the allegation or reveal what really happened. If you, or the child are in counseling or therapy, you may want to discuss your next steps privately with the child's counselor or therapist.
If known, a report of suspected child abuse shall include the name, age, and address of the child and his/her parents or other persons responsible for the child's care. The nature and extent of abuse, including any evidence of previous abuse and any explanation given by caretakers for injuries should also be reported. Include all information which you believe might be helpful in establishing the cause of the abuse and for identifying the abuser. CPS and especially Law Enforcement tends to pursue cases more intensely if there is evidence of physical harm or a credible report by the child. Be sure to report the nature and extent of physical harm that you are aware of.
Dated: December 30, 2007
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