What to Do if You Suspect Child Abuse

by Alison Bell

With April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, here are some startling statistics from the National Children’s Alliance:

  • Nearly 700,000 children are abused in the U.S annually. An estimated 676,000 children (unique incidents) were victims of abuse and neglect in 2015, the most recent year for which there is national data.
  • Neglect is the most common form of maltreatment. Of the children who experienced maltreatment or abuse, three-quarters (74.8%) suffered neglect; 18.2% suffered physical abuse; and 8.5% suffered sexual abuse. (Some children they have suffered more than one form of maltreatment.)
  • About four out of five abusers are the victims’ parents. A parent of the child victim was the perpetrator in 77.5% of substantiated cases of child maltreatment.

Often there are telltale signs of abuse.  Here are some warning signs to look for, according to Brooke Nisen, director of Bienvenidos Family Resource Centers, East Los Angeles (Bienvenidos is an affiliate of Hillsides):

*Children isolate themselves or appear anxious or fearful.

*Children show extreme behavior, either acting out or appearing listless.

*Children suffer frequent injuries or have bruises, cuts, or burns.

*Children talk about being accident-prone or clumsy or tell what appear to be fanciful stories about how they were injured.

  • Children are poorly supervised or are often left alone or on their own in unsafe situations.

If you suspect child abuse, contact the Los Angeles County Child Abuse hotline at 800-540-4000.  “You may worry that if you report child abuse, the parent or caregiver, in anger, may hurt the child more.  However, this is usually not the case,” said Nisen. “Many people err on the side of not reporting, which can cause a child to be hurt even more.” By the way, some professions are mandated by the law to report suspected abuse, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, and social workers.

Once a report is made, authorities will visit the adult and make a determination of the existence and severity of the abuse.

It’s also a good idea to document any suspected abuse by noting the time, date, location, and incident (such as a child having an unexplained bruise), said Nisen.  This documentation may be needed to build a case and evidence that can be used to protect the child.

Child abuse is a painful topic to contemplate.  It’s easier to not want to assume the worst and to turn a blind eye to the situation.  However, the risk of staying uninvolved is too high – the emotional and physical health of a child.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Hillsides Community Blog


The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

%d bloggers like this: