Report Abuse

Child Abuse it happens more often than you think...children need help!

It could be a friend, a teacher, a neighbor or a family member. They could be rich or poor. It could happen anytime, anywhere, any place. The abuse might be neglect, emotional, physical, or sexual. Child abuse happens more often than you think. The result is a child who suffers hurt, is frightened, alone and confused. Children who should be protected, nurtured, loved and cared for are afraid, hurt and neglected. Often in their own homes they are vulnerable and unprotected. They are told, “You are always in the way,” “You are more trouble than you are worth,” “My life would be much easier if you were never born” – words that can break their hearts, bruise their spirits, leave them confused and feeling sad. They cower, hide, try to get away, but they can’t, because they are children. Words of abuse are often followed by acts of abuse.

Every day all across Hillsborough County children face frightening hurtful situations. Far too often parents and caregivers cope with everyday stressors by numbing their minds and leaving the children with no one to turn for the support and love they so desperately need. Child abuse is often the symptom, and issues like mental health, substance and economic insecurity are the diseases that ravage families from the inside out. Children are at risk physically, emotionally and sexually.  You may wonder…

When do I know if it is abuse?

Neglect When a caregiver fails to provide needed food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision which can put the child’s health, safety, and well-being at risk. Examples include:

  • Physical neglect      – failure to provide food, clothing, shelter, and hygiene.
  • Emotional neglect – allowing the child to witness domestic violence, a refusal/delay in mental health services for the child, inconsistent nurturing or      affection and isolation.
  • Medical/dental neglect – failure to provide timely medical care (injuries, dental carries, treatment for chronic diseases such as asthma or diabetes.
  • Educational neglect – failure to enroll a child of mandatory school age in school or allowing the child to become truant.

Failure to supervise – leaving the child alone or in the care of someone who either is unable or should not be trusted to provide care for a child

Emotional/Psychological Abuse When a caregiver tells a child that he or she is worthless, flawed, unloved, unwanted, endangered, or valued only in meeting another’s needs. Psychologically abusive behaviors include: blaming, belittling, degrading, intimidating, terrorizing, isolating, restraining, confining, corrupting, exploiting, spurring.

Physical Abuse When a caregiver uses physical force against a child that results in, or has the potential to result in, physical injury. Physical acts can include: hitting, kicking, punching, beating, stabbing, biting, pushing, shoving, throwing, pulling, dragging, dropping, shaking, strangling/choking, smothering, burning, scalding, and poisoning.

Sexual Abuse When a caregiver attempts to have sexual contact with or exploits a child. There are many ways an adult can attempt sexual contact with a child, some ways include but are not limited to, intentional touching either directly or through the clothing of the child’s private parts or breast area, acts which expose the child to sexual activity, filming of the child in a sexual nature, sexual harassment of a child, and child sex trafficking.

How do I make a report?

There are four ways to make a report:

  • By telephone 1-800-96-ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
  • By fax  1-800-914-0004
  • By TDD 1-800-453-5145
  • Web reporting

What information should I have ready when I make the call?

  • Child’s name, possible responsible person, or alleged perpetrators name
  • Complete addresses for child (if available), license plate number, any identifiable      information
  • Telephone numbers (if available)
  • Age or actual dates of birth if known
  • What happened to the child, type of abuse (neglect, physical, sexual, emotional)
  • Who has harmed the child
  • Gather as much information as you can, and when you call the Abuse Hotline, the counselor will make a determination based on the information you have available at the time of the call.

What happens after I make the call? If it is accepted, the Hotline counselor sends a typed report of the allegations to the local investigation county office where the victim is located. After the report is sent to the local office, the report is assigned to a Child Protective Investigator (CPI) who is then responsible for conducting an investigation on the allegations called in.

How soon does DCF respond to the home? If accepted, all child abuse reports are submitted to the Department of Children and Families within one hour after you make the call. The Child Protection Investigator (CPI) has up to 24 hours to initiate an investigation.

Don't wait, if you think there is a problem, help is available, act now.  You are loved! Safety Bears 4 Kids.