Saving children from abuse phone call away
Americans are more aware than ever of the tragedy of child abuse. The national and local media carry daily reports of children who have been beaten, imprisoned, starved, burned or sexually and emotionally abused. Shopping carts, milk cartons, billboards, newspapers all carry the message that children should tell if they’re being hurt and that to prevent abuse, just call a hotline and help will arrive.
However, we are slowly awakening to the fact that, even if suspected abuse is reported, this does not always result in safeguarding the child from further abuse. In fact, some of the worst cases are those where authorities were notified of abuse and had determined that the child was at risk, but left the child in the care of the abuser.
If you suspect abuse, don’t wait until you can “prove” child abuse. Make a report whenever concern over the safety of a child turns into a suspicion that the child is being abused or neglected. Call immediately if it is suspected there is abuse happening.
When seeking to report child abuse, it is important to remember these points:
Child abuse must be reported within the state it occurs
Not every state has a statewide reporting hotline (the Arizona hotline is (800) SOS-CHILD or go to http://www.de.state.az.us/dcyf/cps/)
Not every state hotline will be accessible 24/7 or accessible outside of that state
It may take a while to get through to the statewide number so callers should be patient; it may take more than one call so callers should not give up (in an emergency call 911)
Callers should have as much information as possible about the abuse and the child being reported. Organize and write down information and have it ready before the call is made. If all the information is not available, make the call anyway. The intake worker will determine if there is enough to make the report. Ask what additional information is needed.
Suggested information to provide:
• Child’s name, address, phone number, age and gender
• Location of the child at the time of the report
• Parents’ names, address and phone number
• Name of the abuser
• Type of abuse (callers should be as specific as possible about what has been observed), or what is suspected
• Presence of siblings or other children living in the home and their names, gender and ages
• School child attends
• Any language barrier
Keep a record of what is reported and what is said during the reporting, the date the call is made, and the intake person’s name and identification number. The called should keep the original notes as a personal record of the event.
To determine if an action being observed is abuse, call the hotline for guidance. If the caller is not comfortable with the answers, he should ask to speak with a supervisor.
Callers can report anonymously if the person is not someone who is required by law to report child abuse.
For more information or assistance, call family advocacy at (623) 856-3417.