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How to Make a Report of Suspected Child Abuse

Knowing how to file a report when you suspect child abuse is critical to protect the children in your organization.

As safety professionals, it is our duty to be the voice of the children we work with. If you suspect a child has been abused, you have a moral (and in some cases legal) obligation to report it to the proper authorities. Below is information on making a report. To learn more about identifying child abuse, click here.

What information do you need to make a report?
Professionals often struggle with determining how much information is needed to make a report. As a general guideline, you can make a report of suspected abuse if you have the following information: WHO did WHAT to the child and WHEN did it occur?  Please do not interview the child for additional details related to the abuse.  Instead, make the report and allow the appropriate authorities to investigate.

RELATED: How to Respond to Suspected Child Abuse

The Reporting Process
Call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD or your state’s hotline to make a report of suspected abuse. Many states allow for online reporting as well. Reports made through hotlines and websites may take up to 24 hours to process; if you feel the child is in immediate danger (i.e. the offender lives in the child’s household or will have access to the child that day), contact your local law enforcement agency.

Information that is helpful to have when making a report (if known):

  • Name, age and address of the child
  • Brief description of the situation
  • Names of parents and any siblings in the home

Your report of child abuse or neglect is confidential and immune from civil and criminal liability as long as it is made in good faith. While every effort will be taken to maintain your confidentiality, in some circumstances, consistent with the law, your identity may be revealed. Your desire to remain anonymous does not release you from your legal obligation to report.

Dianna Smoot is the Director of Community Education at the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center. She can be contacted at dsmoot@dcac.org or you can visit www.trainingcenter.net for more information.

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