Child Abuse and Neglect

Reporting Child Abuse is Preventing Child Abuse

How can I report child abuse or neglect?

Report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling #SAFE (#7233) from a cell phone or 1-855-333-SAFE.

How can I recognize child abuse or neglect?

Signs of physical abuse

  • Unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes 
  • Child seems frightened, cowers or cries when certain adults are around
  • Child is suddenly sad and depressed, aggressive, or withdrawn

Signs of neglect

  • Child is frequently absent from school or child care
  • Begs or steals food or money
  • Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses
  • Is consistently dirty and smells
  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather

Signs of sexual abuse

  • Difficultly walking or sitting
  • Child suddenly becomes very modest or does not want to participate in physical activities
  • Demonstrates excessive sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Tries to run away

Signs of emotional abuse

  • Child shows extremes in behavior, such as extreme passive or aggressive behavior
  • Is either inappropriately adult or infantile
  • Delays in physical or emotional development
  • Reports lack of attachment 

Signs of shaken baby syndrome

  • Irritability
  • Vomiting
  • Poor feeding
  • Extreme tiredness or unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Difficulty breathing

What counts as abuse and neglect?

Physical abuse includes:

  • Cases in which a child exhibits evidence of skin bruising, bleeding, malnutrition, failure to thrive, burns, fracture of a bone, subdural hematoma, tissue swelling or death, AND
  • There is not a justifiable explanation for the condition or death.

Sexual abuse includes:

  • Criminal sexual contact
  • Incest or criminal sexual penetration
  • Sexual exploitation (acts such as allowing, permitting or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution or obscene or pornographic photographing, or filming a child for obscene or pornographic commercial purposes)

Neglect includes:

  • The abandonment of a child by a parent, guardian or custodian.
  • The failure of a parent, guardian or custodian to provide a child with proper parental care and control or subsistence, education, medical or other care or control necessary for the child’s well-being.
  • When a child is physically or sexually abused and the child’s parent, guardian or custodian knew or should have known of the abuse and failed to take reasonable steps to protect the child from further harm.
  • Parental inability to discharge their responsibilities to and for the child because of parental incarceration, hospitalization, or physical or mental disorder or incapacity.

What should I look for if I think a child is involved in human trafficking/sex trafficking?

  • Truancy or school avoidance
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Multiple abortions
  • Substance abuse
  • Expensive items with no means to pay for them
  • Significantly older boyfriend who is dominating/controlling
  • Chronic runaway
  • Unusual tattoo or branding marks
  • Depression
  • Academic decline
  • Homelessness
  • Use of street lingo referencing "the game" or "the life"
  • Involved in any type of commercial sex (i.e., pornography, prostitution, exotic dancing, etc.)