Child Abuse Prevention: Reporting to Authorities

Reporting child abuse is imperative. If you see a child with unexplained injuries or a caregiver who is acting cruelly toward a child, your responsibility is to report the situation to the authorities immediately.

In the third blog for Child Abuse Prevention Month, Thomas J. Henry provides information about reporting physical child abuse.

Who to Contact When Reporting Child Abuse

All states have laws to enforce the reporting of known or suspected child physical abuse or maltreatment, and most states have a child abuse hotline. You can also use the Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.

When you call either hotline, you will be connected to emergency services. A counselor will ask you to explain in detail what has caused you to suspect a child’s danger. The call is confidential, and your identity will remain a secret to the child and any adults involved in the abusive situation. You do not need to have proof of abuse to file a report.

Child Abuse Reporting Laws

In all states, the following professionals are required by law to report child abuse:

  • Teachers
  • Police officers
  • Social workers
  • Medical practitioners
  • Childcare workers

Child abuse reporting laws also frequently apply to:

  • Parents
  • Counselors
  • Clergy
  • Recreational groups
  • Photograph/film processors
  • And others

In 18 states, any adult that “suspects or has reasons to believe” that a child has been abused must report the child abuse to avoid legal penalty.

According to, a trusted site for mental health information, “Criminal penalties for not reporting child abuse range between 10 days to 5 years in jail and fines of between $100 and $5000. In some cases, not reporting child abuse also makes the non-reporter civilly liable.”

What Happens After?

After you make the report, it will be evaluated by social workers and other appropriate authorities. They will investigate the situation and determine if your story is accurate. If they find that the child is being abused, they may temporarily or permanently remove the child from the situation. Then the investigative team will create the best possible recovery plan for the child.

If you notice child abuse, act right away. Your report could save a child’s life.

Contact an Experienced Child Abuse Attorney

If you believe that your child has been the victim of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, contact Thomas J. Henry. For over two decades, Thomas J. Henry has been an advocate for physical abuse victims across the state of Texas. Our experienced child injury lawyers are available 24/7, nights and weekends to take your call. Contact us today for a free case review.

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