How to Report Abuse

Children and families who are victims of abuse need help. You could even save a life. Children die every day from abuse and neglect. Often someone is aware of the maltreatment and did not report it. When you report abuse, families are connected with resources and services. This may reduce stress and save a life.


Who to Call to Make a Report

In case of an emergency, call 911. In non-emergency situations, call your local county social services to make a report about the abuse. If you are unsure of the information that is helpful when reporting please see below.


Reporting Child Abuse

What you need:

  • The name, age and address of the child you suspect is being abused or neglected
  • The name and address of the parents or caretakers (most of this information can be gathered from the child’s school, if applicable)
  • The name, age, address of the person you suspect is abusing or neglecting the child. The reason you suspect the child is being abused and neglected
  • Any other information which may be helpful to the investigation

What to do:

  • Document the child’s exact words
  • Consider the child’s safety – will be going home to the alleged perpetrator?
  • Provide an appropriate and supportive response such as “I believe you” or “It’s not your fault”
  • Reassure the child that he or she is not in trouble
  • Respect the child and his or her disclosure and respect the child’s privacy
  • Consider how your body language, facial expressions and words may affect the child
  • Do not silence a verbal, forthcoming child but do not ask for details!!!!!
  • Remember you are a reporter not a responder

You have the option of giving your name or reporting anonymously. Giving your name can help the investigator clarify information. The agency will not give your name to the person suspected of abusing the child.

Behaviors to avoid when a child reports possible abuse:

  • Do not react with panic or other strong emotions; the child may view negative reactions as a reflection on him/herself rather than the perpetrator or situation
  • Do not try to conduct your own investigation or try to validate the child’s report
  • Do not ask detail-seeking questions
  • Do not use interview tools such as dolls or diagrams to learn more
  • Do not ask the child to repeat his or her statement for others
  • Do not share the information with those who don’t need to know
  • Do not confront or challenge the child
  • Do not try to reframe what the child has told you
  • Do not lie or make promises about what will happen next