How to Spot & Report Signs of Child Abuse

Laurel Hermanson's new novel Soft Landing asks the question "How far would you go to help a child you suspect is being abused - right now"? Witness to what she believes is a little girl being molested, Maxine Reise sees no alternative but to intervene. She overpowers the abuser and whisks the child to safety. In the aftermath of this violent incident, eight-year-old Chloe is too terrified to talk, forcing Maxine to defend her split-second decision. Maxine, Chloe and the people closest to them are plunged into uncertainty as they try to get on with their lives, waiting for the truth to unfold.

Leslie Brown, LCSW, CADC, is the Coordinator of the 03-Trauma project at The Children's Relief Nursery which provides child abuse prevention services to young children birth through four years. Leslie had the following advice if you suspect child abuse in your own family or you witness something being done by a stranger.

1. If you are a witness to an emergency situation happening before your eyes you should call 911 or call the child abuse hotline CPS in Multnomah County is 503-731-3100.
2. If you have a relationship with the child or the child’s non-offending caregiver, you can ask him/ her about your concern in a non-threatening, non-leading way. Ask “is there anything wrong” or you look upset, is there anything you want to talk about?”
3. You do not have to prove abuse occurred. Do not ask leading questions, investigate, or try to assess whether or not abuse occurred.
4. If  possible let the child know he/she is not responsible for the abuse. Try not to over react, don’t talk about blaming anyone. Tell the child you will get in touch with people who can help & they will need to talk with him/her.
5. If it is not an emergency situation & you have questions about whether or not to report, call your local DHS office and consult with a CPS-trained worker. You can call anonymously,  They can tell you if it is a situation that should be reported.

6. If a child discloses to you and/or you witness an event you have reason to suspect as abuse or neglect & you are a friend or family member, first ask yourself “am I a mandated reporter?” ( includes many professionals working in fields such as: teachers, childcare provider, social workers, healthcare professionals, etc.). If so then you are required to report anything that meets the child abuse & neglect guidelines under the Oregon Child Abuse Reporting Law in the document “A guide for mandatory reporters of child abuse”.

There are six different categories of child abuse:
Mental Injury
Sexual Abuse
Threatened Harm
Buying or selling a child

Report the names & addresses of the child and parent; the child’s age, the type and extent of abuse; as well as any previous evidence of abuse; the explanation given for the abuse.

You do not need to know the name of the abuse before you report. For more information click here.


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