Child abuse is a serious matter that relies on responsible adults to help put an end to it. Without the actions of someone who witnessed the abuse, the child can continue to suffer indefinitely.
This type of abuse is far more common than you may expect, with nearly 700,000 cases occurring annually. Knowing how to identify and report all forms of child abuse can help save the life of a child near you; here is what to look for:
Signs of child abuse
Child abuse can come in many different varieties. Physical abuse can be difficult for an abuser to hide, but it is possible. If a child has obvious makeup on their face, neck, or other areas of the body, it may be covering bruises. An abusive parent may force a child to wear baggy clothes even on hot days, or a child may cover themselves up from shame.
Neglect is another form of abuse that children can suffer, which can happen when children do not receive the care or resources they need to be healthy. Neglected children can be regularly unclean, appear malnourished, or even wear the same outfit many times a week.
What to do if you suspect child abuse
Some people are mandatory reporters of child abuse, such as doctors and childcare workers, which means they will report child abuse any time they suspect that it is happening. If you believe a child is suffering from neglect or abuse, call the Child Protective Services (CPS) hotline at 1-800-252-5400.
Your call to the CPS line is 100% anonymous, which means that no one will find out if you called them to report suspected abuse or neglect. Your call can make a difference in a child’s future, so be sure to call CPS if you suspect a child is suffering from neglect or abuse.