If you believe a child is being abused, it is critical that you help. You may be
afraid that you are interfering in someone else’s family. You may worry that the
authorities will only make the situation worse. But, despite your fears you’ve got
to get the child help. The effects of abuse and neglect last a lifetime, and affect
future generations and the entire community. Consider these myths about reporting
abuse to help you put your mind at rest about doing your duty as an adult member
of the community.
- I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. Of course you
don’t – however children cannot speak out for themselves. Not only are the consequences
for the child grave – other children may be affected as well. Moreover, when the
children grow up, they may find themselves continuing the cycle with their own children.
Help the oppressed – and the oppressor. Help break the cycle of child abuse. You
literally could be saving the lives of many!
- I might break up someone’s home. If child abuse is happening – the family,
and home are already broken! Remember that the priority in child protective
services is keeping children in the home. A child abuse report does not mean a child
is automatically removed from the home - unless the child is clearly in danger.
Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered
first to parents if they are safe for the child.
- They will know it was me who called. Reporting abuse is anonymous.
In most places, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse. The
child abuser cannot find out who made the report of child abuse.
- My report won’t make a difference. If you have a gut feeling that
something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the
whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify
child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
When it comes to reporting child abuse or neglect, we urge you to be brave, and
strong in your conviction to help the child/ children. Not only are you changing
their lives now, you are also giving them a chance to grow up and become functional
members of the community.
Still Not Sure?
Then pick up the phone and call 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) now. The professional
staff at the hotline can help you process your concerns and decide on the best course
of action. The Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance
in 170 languages. The Hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature,
and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources.
All calls are anonymous and confidential. For more information,
National Child Abuse Hotline website.