How To Address Child Abuse

To inform parents and teachers

What kinds of abuse are there?

Physical abuse: Non accidental injury of a child that leaves marks, scars, bruises, or broken bones.

Neglect: The failure of parents/caregivers to provide needed age appropriate care including food, clothing, shelter, protection from harm, supervision appropriate to the child's development, hygiene, and medical care.

Sexual Abuse: Any inappropriate sexual exposure or touch by an adult to a child or an older child to a younger child. Includes but is not limit to fondling, sexual intercourse, sexual assault, rape, date rape, incest, child prostitution, exposure, and pornography.

Emotional Abuse: Parental behavior, such as rejecting, terrorizing, berating, ignoring, or isolating a child, that is likely to serious impairment of the physical, social, mental, or emotional capacities of the child.

Know the warning signs

Physical Abuse:
  • unexplained bruises, burns, human bites, broken bones, missing hair, and scratches.
  • wary of physical contact with adults, behavioral extremes, frightened of parents, afraid to go home, cheating, stealing, lying, and layered clothing.


  • constant hunger, poor hygiene, excessive sleepiness, lack of appropriate supervision, unattended physical problems or medical needs, abandonment, and inappropriate clothing for weather conditions.
  • begging for or stealing food and frequent sleeping

Sexual Abuse:

  • difficulty walking or sitting, torn, stained, or bloody underclothing, pain or itching in genital area, and bruises to bleeding in private areas.
  • age inappropriate sexual knowledge/touch, abrupt change in personality, withdrawn, poor peer relationships, unwilling to change for gym or participate in physical activities, promiscuous behavior/seductive behavior, sleep disturbances, and regressive behavior.

Emotional Abuse:

  • speech disorders, lags in physical development, and failure to thrive
  • habit disorders, conduct disorders, sleep disorders or inhibition of play, and behavior extremes.

Why do people not report child abuse?

  • They choose to intervene independently
  • Fear or unwillingness to get involved
  • Fear that a report will make it worse
  • Don't want to anger the family
  • Fear that making a report will negatively impact your relationship with the individual/others.
  • Belief that someone else will speak up/do something.
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What to do when you suspect child abuse

You have to be comfortable involving yourself in the lives of others. You have to be comfortable to intervene to maybe help prevent child abuse. This could range from babysitting for a stressed parent or just helping them in the grocery store. Alleviating stress from a parent can help prevent child abuse from happening.

If you do suspect child abuse you need to report it to your local child abuse or child protection hotline. You just need reasonable suspicion or belief in order to report child abuse, the more concrete the evidence the better it will be.

The number for your local child welfare agency can be found here

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What questions will you be asked when you call?

  • Your relationship to the child
  • The child's name, age, and address (if you don't know this you can give details to help them locate the child)
  • The suspected abusers name, address or license plate number, and their relationship to the child
  • The child's parents names, address, and phone numbers
  • Type of abuse you suspect
  • Current location of the child
  • Your assessment of the child's current level of safety
  • What about the child's siblings and safety concerns
  • Name, addresses, and phone numbers of other possible witnesses
  • Do you know of any previous situations with child abuse or involvement with the child welfare system with this family
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What happens after you report child abuse

  • A child welfare worker will investigate the situation. The worker will look to see if abuse or neglect has likely occurred, if there is immediate danger or risk to the child, why the suspected abuser might be abusing the child, and who else may be able to take care of the child.
  • If abuse or neglect is proven to have happened the case will go to court and they will determine there what level of intervention needs to take place. Depending on how severe the abuse or neglect was will determine the level of intervention.
  • If no neglect or abuse was proven then the case will be marked as unsubstantiated.