Q&A: What should I do if I witness child abuse?
What should I do if I witness child abuse?
Thank you for asking this question, as it is one I truly believe every person needs to know the answer to! The answer to the question of what to do in the case of witnessed (or even suspected) child abuse is absolutely to report it. Each state provides its own specific definition of what constitutes child abuse and neglect based on guidelines established by federal law.
Most states recognize four main types of child mistreatment, typically broken down into physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, and child neglect. Each state has its own system in place to allow for reporting any and all suspected cases of child abuse and neglect. For anyone who witnesses child abuse—regardless of type or whether you are a professional or a concerned citizen—it should always be reported to the appropriate authorities in your state. Typically, that’s through a state hotline, a local child protective services agency, or to local law enforcement. For more valuable information on child abuse reporting you can visit childwelfare.gov.