Anyone can report child abuse. Mandated ReportersCertain professionals are required by law to report suspected child abuse or maltreatment to state authorities such as the New York State Central Register (SCR) of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, also known as the Child Abuse Hotline. The law also assigns civil and criminal liability to those professionals who do not comply with their mandated reporter abilities. are required by law to report any suspected child abuse, with or without proof.
There are four ways you can help a child who tells you about sexual abuse they have suffered, or who you suspect has been abused.
If you know a child has been sexually abused, please do one of the following:
- Physical Harm.
If the abuse was recent and you have reason to believe there has been physical harm to the child or any physical evidence of the abuse, please take the child to the nearest hospital. Do not wait and don’t let the child change clothes or shower first. Explain to them that having physical evidence of what was done to them can be very helpful to the police, especially if the case goes to trial. Most hospitals have social workers and other trained professionals who will help the child emotionally as well as medical staff trained to take physical evidence in these types of cases. One warning: Please request that someone specifically trained in this process do the physical exam. These exams are emotionally difficult for the child, and unfortunately we have seen untrained medical staff further traumatize sexually abused kids by not knowing what they are doing.
- Continued Threat.
If you believe the child is in ANY danger from the abuser, take the child to your nearest police station. DO NOT WAIT. Although any police officer will assist you, many local police precincts now have a specially trained unit to handle crimes against children. Call your local police station and ask if there is a Sex Crimes or Crimes Against Children Unit. If so, arrange to have yourself and the child met at the Police Station by a member of this unit.
- Child Protective Services.
If you are a mandated reporter or anyone besides a parent of the child, either do one of the above, or call your state’s Child Protective Services office. Click the link at the top of the page for a State by State directory of Phone Numbers to use to Report Suspected Abuse.
- Further Help.
If you’d like someone to talk to and to help you report the abuse, call ChildHelp. Our partner organization, 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. All calls are anonymous. Contact them at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. (1-800-422-4453)
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