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Reporting Child Abuse

If you suspect a child is being abused, it’s critical to get them the help he or she needs. Reporting child abuse seems so official. Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives. Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse.

  • I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.
  • What if I break up someone’s home? 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 safe for the child.
  • They will know it was me who called. Reporting 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.
  • It won’t make a difference what I have to say. 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 reporting child abuse

  • If you suspect a child is being abused, it’s critical to get them the help he or she needs. Reporting child abuse seems so official. Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives.
  • Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse.
  • I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.
  • What if I break up someone’s home? 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 safe for the child.
  • They will know it was me who called. Reporting 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.
  • It won’t make a difference what I have to say. 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 reporting child abuse Reporting child abuse can bring up a lot of difficult emotions and uncertainty. You may ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing, or question if your voice will even be heard. Here are some tips for communicating effectively in difficult situations:

  • Try to be as specific as you can. For example, instead of saying, “The parents are not dressing their children right,” say something like, “I saw the child running outside three times last week in subzero weather without a jacket or hat. I saw him shivering and uncomfortable. He seemed to want to come inside.” However, remember that it is not your job to “prove” abuse or neglect. If suspicions are all you have, you should report those as well.
  • Understand that you may not learn of the outcome. Due to confidentiality laws unless you are a mandated reporter in an official capacity, you probably won’t be updated by Child Protective Services (CPS) about the results of their investigation. The family may not broadcast that they have been mandated services, either—but that doesn’t mean they are not receiving them.
  • If you see future incidences, continue to call and report them. Each child abuse report is a snapshot of what is going on in the family. The more information that you can provide, the better the chance of getting the best care for the child.

Reporting abuse in your home or in child custody situations
Witnessing abuse in your own home or suspecting abuse in a custody situation brings its own set of challenges and concerns. You may be afraid of what your abuser will do to you and your children if you speak up. You may also be concerned that the abuser will be able to cover his or her tracks or even turn the abuse around onto you. Culturally, it may not be acceptable for you to separate, adding additional feelings of shame and isolation. You may also be afraid of having your children taken away from you.

Don’t go it alone
Domestic Violence isn’t just about black eyes. Manipulation and emotional threats to you and your children are also a form of abuse, power, and control. Fear of losing custody of the children can be extremely stressful for both women and men in abusive relationships. Child abuse allegations in divorce or child custody issues are viewed very carefully to ensure they are not motivated by vindictiveness. However, if your abuser appears professional, well-groomed, and well-spoken to the outside world, you may feel like your concerns aren’t being taken seriously.

Worse, if your allegations remain unproven, they may even result in the abuser being given custody. Therefore, if you are planning to separate, or have already separated and are in a custody battle, it is essential to get support and legal advice. Domestic violence organizations can help you connect with
legal resources in your community, and may be able to provide an advocate to assist your case and attend court hearings. Departments can help you work out a safety plan for both you and your children, and in Lagos state Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT).

 

Tips on how to report child abuse in your home or in a custody situation

  1. STAY CALM. Do not let your emotions dictate your actions, and do not vent your emotions onto the people who are assigned to investigate your case (CPN, law enforcement officers, etc.).
  2. IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY: Call 911 or your Juvenile Welfare Department.
  3. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING from this point forward, including times, dates, and places. KEEP all documents from all professionals who have an opinion about the child abuse. This includes therapists, doctors, policemen, and teachers. If a professional informs you that they have an opinion or a suspicion of child abuse, have them document that suspicion, preferably in the form of an affidavit. Be sure to get a copy of any opinions from professionals regarding your child’s case.
  4. HAVE YOUR CHILD EVALUATED. Talk to medical and psychology professionals. If possible, have your child evaluated at a Child Assessment Center.
  5. BEGIN INVESTIGATION. Talk to law enforcement officers to initiate an investigation into the allegation of child abuse. Any reasonable belief of abuse or neglect should be reported to the police. If you have been too afraid to voice allegations in the past, let them know. If you have previously reported abuse, communicate the fact that you are trying to protect the child from further harm
  6. TALK TO CPN. If the abuse is not criminal, talk to CPN to initiate an investigation into the allegation of child abuse.
  7. GET THE FAMILY COURT ATTENTION: Get an attorney and start proceedings to gain full custody of your child and terminate the abuser’s parental rights.

Compiled by: Ugochi Onyechefula
Source: Helpguide.org

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