According to the National At-Risk Education Network (NAREN), a child is considered at-risk if he is in danger of dropping out of school or not succeeding in life due to being raised in unfavorable conditions. Reports containing evidence of observable harm to a child will help local authorities to investigate the case. Observable harm may include physical symptoms such as bite marks, bruises, broken bones and fearful body language around a specific parent or adult. Neglect symptoms may include frequent school absences, poor hygiene and begging or stealing for food. Suicide attempts or extremes in behavior such as being overly passive or aggressive may indicate emotional abuse. If a child has problems sitting, walking, bed-wetting, frequent nightmares, unusual knowledge of sex or signs of STDs, this may be a sign of sexual abuse.
Gather the facts and observations about the child for whom you will be making the report. Clearly state the details such as the time, date and the scenario that has caused your concern.
Call the police immediately if you suspect that any laws are being broken or that a child's life is in danger.
Contact and file a report with the Child Protective Services in your area. States vary in protocol. Most organizations allow you to report anonymously. If you don't notice any improvement in the child's situation, then you can file a follow-up report to Child Protective Services. If it is not taking action, then you may remind the agency of its duty to act on the child's behalf. File a complaint with the director of the Child Services department if no action is being taken to help the child.
Call the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child, if you suspect child abuse. Counselors will answer any questions that you have, clarify the signs of abuse, and will illuminate the reporting process. The link to this website is listed in the Resources section.
- The National At-Risk Education Network: What is NAREN?
- Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services: Los Angeles County- Report Child Abuse
- Children's Defense Fund: Each Day in America: November 2005
- Child Welfare Information Gateway: Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect: Signs and Symptoms
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