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Behavior, Parenting and Discipline > What to do if you suspect abuse

What to do if you suspect abuse

If you suspect child abuse, it is important that you help protect the child by notifying the proper authorities. It is not your job to prove that the abuse is happening, but alerting the right people so they can investigate and ensure the safety of the child is important.

It is outside the scope of practice for our office to examine or interview children in cases of suspected abuse. Please do not schedule appointments for us to help identify signs of abuse. We are mandatory reporters, which means if we suspect abuse we must notify Child Protective Services, but we will not do the follow up interview or exam. That is best done with specially trained professionals. Because suspected abuse affects the physical and mental health of a child, please share any information you know about potential abuse with us, but not in front of the child.

There are times that lawyers actually use discussions of abuse in front of the children (as in our office) against the best interest of the child. We encourage you to NOT discuss in detail concerns in front of the child in our office. Let us know your concerns when the child is not present, by a note in the exam room or with a phone call during office hours. After hours you should follow the advice below. Telling us does not mean you shouldn't file a report.

Telling us helps us take best care of your child when things might be related to the alleged abuse (such as anxiety, sleep problems, headaches, stomachaches, and other symptoms).

If a child is immediately in danger, call 911. 

If you suspect abuse or neglect, you should file a report with the Child Protective Services of Kansas or Child Protective Services of Missouri. You do not have to be certain that abuse is occurring. They will deem if an investigation is necessary. Sometimes that "odd" feeling you have can save a child if you take the right action. Anonymous reports are allowed.

Err on the side of over-reporting. If you have the thought, "Maybe …" — CALL! Not all calls to the hotline are determined to be abuse/neglect. At risk kids can receive services and assistance that can help families prevent abuse.

If a child is suffering from acute injuries, call 911 or take the child to a local Emergency Room, preferably one for children.

What you can do to help your child:

From AACAP's website:

Parental support is critical for a child's recovery after child abuse or violence. First, spend positive time with your child. Try to find a few minutes each day to do something your child enjoys, tell your child you love him or her, and show simple affection through actions (e.g., holding hands, hugs, smiles) as well as through words.

Second, assure your child that he or she was not to blame for what happened. This is especially important if changes occur in the family (for example, if a child abuser was a family member, the abuser had to leave the family, and people in your family "take sides" about whom to believe). In these situations your child may feel responsible for the difficult family circumstances.

Finally, understand your child's need for safety even if he or she sometimes misses the person who caused the violence or abuse. It is not uncommon for a child to still love or miss a family member who abused them or who was violent. Let your child know that the person had to leave because they were hurting someone in the home and this was not safe. Even young children understand that rules are needed to maintain safety. By explaining your family's safety rules (e.g., what you will do to keep everyone in your home safe) you will help to get back a sense of security and safety for your children. 

Resources:

Children's Mercy Child Abuse and Neglect Department 

The Division of Child Abuse and Neglect (SCAN) cares for nearly 3,000 children each year by identifying, preventing and treating all forms of child abuse. They work with social workers and governmental agencies throughout Kansas and Missouri to develop appropriate state responses to child maltreatment.

Kansas Child Protection Services 

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, please telephone the Kansas Protection Report Center at 1-800-922-5330. Every call is taken seriously and every effort will be made to protect your identity. Telephone lines are staffed 24 hours a day. In the event of an emergency contact your local law enforcement or call 911.

Missouri Child Protection Services
 
  • 1-800-392-3738
  • Calling from out-of-state?: 573-751-3448
  • TDD: 1-800-669-8689

The Children’s Division Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline (CA/NHU) is a toll-free telephone line which is answered seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

National Children's Alliance members in the Kansas City Metro 

National Children’s Alliance (NCA) is the national association and accrediting body for Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs). Formed in 1988, NCA has been providing support, technical assistance, and quality assurance for CACs, while serving as a voice for abused children for more than 25 years. A children’s advocacy center is a child-friendly facility in which law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy professionals work together to investigate abuse, help children heal from abuse, and hold offenders accountable.

Sunflower House is a Child Abuse Prevention Center. They interview children after a report of child abuse has been made. They work with the police and child protective service social workers to talk with children in our safe and child-centered location.

Want to help abused and neglected children?

Become a CASA volunteer. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children is a network of 949 community-based programs that recruit, train and support citizen-volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in courtrooms and communities. Volunteer advocates—empowered directly by the courts—offer judges the critical information they need to ensure that each child’s rights and needs are being attended to while in foster care.

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