What do I do if I think someone is abusing a child?
If a child discloses that someone has abused him/her, it is important that you listen to them most of all.
- Call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1.800.252.5400
- OR, if the child is in immediate danger, CALL 911 – You may remain anonymous.
- Failure to report suspected child abuse or neglect is punishable by imprisonment of up to 180 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000. (Texas Family Code, Chapter 34)
- Child Protective Services (CPS) receives reports from concerned citizens, alerting them to check on children in dangerous situations.
- Citizens may also file a report of suspected abuse using a secure web site: www.txabusehotline.org
Be prepared to provide the following information:
- Child’s name, age, and address
- Brief description of the child
- Current injuries, medical problems or behavioral problems
- Parents’ names and names of siblings in the home
- Investigate; leave this to the professionals
- Ask leading questions (a question that suggests the answer or contains the information the questioner is looking for – That man touched you, didn’t he?)
- Make promises
- Notify the parents or the caretaker
- Provide a safe environment (be a good listener while welcoming and comforting the child)
- Assure the child the situation was not his/her fault
- Listen carefully
- Document the child’s exact quotes
- Be supportive, not judgmental
- Know your limits
- Tell the truth and make no promises
- Ask ONLY FOUR questions:
- What happened?
- Who did this to you?
- Where were you when this happened?
- When did this happen?
*** Asking any additional questions may contaminate a case! ***