Child Abuse Identification & Reporting
How to Report Child Abuse
What do I do if I suspect abuse?
Report it to the Department of Human Resources or the police. For immediate concerns call 911.
Follow this link to access the contact information for the county in which the abuse is suspected to have occurred: http://dhr.alabama.gov/counties/county_select.aspx
Everyone should report suspected child abuse or neglect, but if you are a mandatory reporter, are required by law report suspected child abuse or neglect.
Those required, by law, to report include doctors, surgeons, medical examiners, coroners, dentists, osteopaths, optometrists, chiropractors, podiatrists, nurses, school teachers and officials, law enforcement officials, pharmacists, social workers, day care workers or employees, and mental health professionals. Also required to report are persons called upon to render aid or medical assistance to any child when the child is known or suspected to be a victim of abuse or neglect.
What if a child discloses abuse to me?
- Provide a safe environment (be comforting, welcoming, and a good listener).
- Tell the child it was not his/her fault.
- Listen carefully.
- Document the child’s exact quotes.
- Be supportive, not judgmental.
- Know your limits.
- Tell the truth and make no promises.
- Investigate – leave this to the professionals.
- Ask leading questions (a question that suggests the answer or contains the information the questioner is looking for – That man touched you, didn’t he?).
- Make promises.
- Notify the parents or the caretaker.
Ask ONLY four questions:
- What happened?
- Who did this to you?
- Where were you when this happened?
- When did this happen?
*Asking any additional questions may contaminate a case!
*It is our RESPONSIBILITY to report SUSPECTED child abuse or neglect!
Warning signs of emotional abuse in children:
- Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
- Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
- Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
- Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, throwing tantrums).
Warning signs of physical abuse in children
- Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
- Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
- Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
- Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
- Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.
Warning signs of neglect in children
- Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
- Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
- Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
- Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
- Is frequently late or missing from school.
Warning signs of sexual abuse in children
- Shrinks away or seems threatened by physical contact
- Exhibits signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder
- Expresses suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents
- Develops phobias
- Has trouble in school, such as absences or drops in grades
- Changes in hygiene, such as refusing to bathe or bathing excessively
- Returns to regressive behaviors, such as thumb sucking
- Runs away from home or school
- Overly protective and concerned for siblings, or assumes a caretaker role
- Nightmares or bed-wetting
- Inappropriate sexual knowledge or behaviors
For additional questions regarding Recognizing, Preventing, and Reporting Child Abuse, please call (334) 671-1966
To make a report please contact your local Department of Human Resources http://dhr.alabama.gov/counties/county_select.aspx or law enforcement.