What to do if CPS or DHS won’t help an abused child you’ve reported?
So, you’ve reported an abused child to CPS/DHS and nothing came of it? We hear these stories often and we have some suggestions for you: First and foremost, take photos and/or video of the abuse you have witnessed or seen. This will be valuable evidence to substantiate the abuse you are reporting. Also, the more reports that are submitted about the same abused child, the more chances something will be done quicker. Have the child’s teacher, neighbors, friends, church folks or whoever has any contact with the child, start complaining LOUDLY and OFTEN.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE NEXT:
What to do if CPS won’t help an abused child you’ve reported?
First and foremost, take photos and/or video of the abuse you have witnessed or seen. This will be valuable evidence to substantiate the abuse you are reporting. Also, the more reports that are submitted about the same abused child, the more chances something will be done quicker. Have the child’s teacher, neighbors, friends, church folks or whoever has any contact with the child, start complaining LOUDLY and OFTEN.
1) Contact LEGAL AIDE and find legal representation — your case should be tried in a court of law to petition the court for an abuse or neglect investigation, temporary guardianship, and/or full custody.
2) Call a Child Abuse Hotline and make a formal report. This may also help to escalate an investigation. These hotlines are staffed 24-hours a day. When you call, a Child Protective Services intake specialist will ask you for information about the child’s family and about how and why you think the child is being mistreated.
Child Abuse Hotlines:
- US or Canada: 1-800-422-4453 (1-800-4-A-Child) (Childhelp)
- UK: 0800 1111 (NSPCC Childline)
- Australia: 1800 688 009 (CAPS)
- New Zealand: 0800-543-754 (Kidsline)
- State by State Hotlines: Visit this link – http://www.dreamcatchersforabusedchildren.com/abuse/report-abuse-2/
3) Call the police or dial 911 directly – especially if the child is in immediate danger! If the child has current immediate/obvious bruising, abuse, neglect or any signs that the police or EMS workers can visibly see, I guarantee CPS will be forced to step in after they contact them. (Having police reports to coincide with CPS reports helps to bring the case immediate attention!!)
4) Contact the CPS office and ask to speak the the SUPERVISOR—report the worker behind the recommendation. You probably initially spoke to an intake worker. Next time ask to speak to the Intake Worker’s supervisor (they are who decides whether a case is accepted or not). There are two types of investigations: a GPS case/investigation- General Protection Services (and) a CPS case/investigation – Child Protection Services.
5) Contact the child’s school and speak directly to his teacher, principal, coach or school counselor. They are mandated reporters and can help to bring attention to the child’s abuse. When a mandated reporter makes a child abuse report, it will substantiate any other reports already received on said child and will escalate the case to higher priority. Stay in close touch with the school counselor and make sure the children know that the counselor is someone to be trusted and they will NEVER be in trouble for telling the counselor the truth.
6) Document, document, document. Take pictures. Tell the child that if they are hit they are to call the police IMMEDIATELY and reassure them that you will never get angry at them for calling the police. Tell them that if they become that afraid, they are to run to a neighbor’s house and call the police. Police take that kind of stuff very seriously BECAUSE of the number of children who have been seriously injured or worse because of neglect and abuse that went unpunished. Record and document everything—-keep a journal with dates, times, notes. Write down in detail what the child did to be “punished” for, when and where thy were hit and with what object, etc… Remember to take pictures and/or video of any/all abuse. This is crucial!! If possible, install a “nanny or spy cam” to catch the abuse on tape.
7) Take the child to a physician’s office or hospital for evaluation. Ask for a copy of the medical examination report with the doctor’s findings. These reports are also crucial for any investigation.
8) If all else fails, please contact your state governor’s office and speak to thecommission’s office!!! They will record an “in-take” report and investigate. Contact your state legislature/governor’s office/District Attorney and ask for assistance. Report the CPS office that is behind this unacceptable recommendation. Do not take no for an answer…be persistent. Call them, write them, go in person to their offices and tell them you need help.
NOTE: The laws state that parents are allowed to parent as they see fit provided the child isn’t being physically/emotionally/mentally abused nor neglected to the point that it puts the child’s life in danger. Physical abuse is the easiest to prove in a court of law. Emotional/Mental Abuse is about impossible to prove with a younger child, especially if there aren’t other kids in the home displaying the same behaviors and if the behaviors aren’t extreme. Spanking isn’t illegal, spanking with an implement is highly frowned upon, but if it isn’t causing severe pain, bruising or impairment, it’s not (technically) illegal….Just morally and ethically wrong.
Please note that CPS should only be utilized to protect children in danger through child abuse, sexual abuse, maltreatment, or neglect. It should never be used to report individuals who do not agree with the way a family or other parent is raising the child. DHS is always going to try to rehabilitate the parent. Jurisdictions vary, but you need to keep reporting to CPS EVERY TIME an incident occurs. They have to come out and investigate each report by law.
How the POLICE investigate child abuse allegations
If concerns about child abuse are reported to the police, they have a duty to investigate. This page tells you more about these investigations and how the decision to prosecute is taken.
How the police investigate allegations of child abuse
If someone reports concerns about child abuse to the police, the case will be dealt with by a specialist child abuse investigation team.The team may do one or more of the following things to investigate the allegations:
- share information with the local authority, schools, and health services to establish what is already known
- visit and speak to the child, either with or without parental permission
- visit the home where the child lives or where the offence took place
- search for and seize evidence of the offence
- arrange a medical examination of a child (see below)
- place a child into police protection for up to 72 hours if they believe the child is at risk of immediate significant harm
- gather statements from potential witnesses (see below).
The police may want the child who has been abused to be medically examined. The first priority in a medical examination is the safety and welfare of a child. If a child needs immediate medical treatment, this will always come before any other consideration. Where the child is very young, the parents have to give permission for a medical examination. On rare occasions, a social worker may seek a court order for a medical examination to take place if a parent won’t allow it. If the child is older, the doctor will have to be satisfied that the child is clearly able to give their consent to be medically examined. Police and social workers may attend the medical examination along with the child’s parents and it will be carried out by a specialist pediatrician who will make a record of any injuries and arrange photographs if necessary. If you visit a GP with concerns about child abuse, a further specialist medical examination may need to take place.
The police may ask anyone who could be a witness to the abuse to provide a statement. This may be written or, particularly with children, by interviewing in a special room with video or DVD recording equipment. When a child is interviewed, a social worker will often be present or may even conduct the interview if they have specialist training. If you are suspected of child abuse, the police must either arrest you or invite you to speak to them at a police station. They must advise you of your legal rights and offer you the opportunity of seeking advice from a solicitor.
If you’re unhappy about the way the police investigate allegations, you may be able to make a complaint.
The decision whether or not to prosecute
Once the police have conducted their investigation and gathered all relevant information, they have to decide if there is enough evidence to consider a prosecution. If there is enough evidence, the police papers are passed to the Child Protective Service (CPS) who make the decision whether a suspect should be charged with an offence or not. CPS may ask the police to make further enquiries or obtain additional evidence. There are guidelines in place which CPS must follow when dealing with a child abuse case. When they make the decision about whether to prosecute someone, specialist prosecutors in CPS must look at all the relevant evidence and decide:
- if there’s a realistic prospect of conviction, and
- if a prosecution is in the public interest.
The guidelines say that victims and witnesses should be made aware from the start of the investigation exactly what is expected of them, particularly in terms of going to court and giving evidence, and they should be offered support to help them in this process. When considering how believable a child or young person is, the police and CPS should focus on the allegation, rather than focusing just on any perceived weaknesses in the victim. In particular, police and prosecutors should avoid making assumptions about victims. A reluctance to cooperate with those in authority, failure to report allegations of abuse swiftly, and providing inconsistent accounts are not uncommon in victims of child sexual abuse, especially during initial interviews’.
The child or young person can be told that other people have made allegations about the suspect. But this should usually only be done after they have given their own account and the details of other allegations shouldn’t be shared.
The following information is from www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect.htm
Reporting child abuse—anonymously
If you suspect a child is being abused, it’s critical to get them the help he or she needs. Reporting child abuse seems so official. Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives.
Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse.
- I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.
- What if I break up someone’s home? The priority in child protective services is keeping children in the home. A child abuse report does not mean a child is automatically removed from the home—unless the child is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.
- They will know it was me who called. Reporting is anonymous. In most places, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse. The child abuser cannot find out who made the report of child abuse.
- It won’t make a difference what I have to say. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
When reporting child abuse
Reporting child abuse can bring up a lot of difficult emotions and uncertainty. You may ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing, or question if your voice will even be heard. Here are some tips for communicating effectively in difficult situations:
- Try to be as specific as you can. For example, instead of saying, “The parents are not dressing their children right,” say something like, “I saw the child running outside three times last week in subzero weather without a jacket or hat. I saw him shivering and uncomfortable. He seemed to want to come inside.” However, remember that it is not your job to “prove” abuse or neglect. If suspicions are all you have, you should report those as well.
- Understand that you may not learn of the outcome. Due to confidentiality laws in the U.S., unless you are a mandated reporter in an official capacity, you probably won’t be updated by Child Protective Services (CPS) about the results of their investigation. The family may not broadcast that they have been mandated services, either—but that doesn’t mean they are not receiving them.
- If you see future incidences, continue to call and report them. Each child abuse report is a snapshot of what is going on in the family. The more information that you can provide, the better the chance of getting the best care for the child.
Reporting abuse in your home or in child custody situations
Witnessing abuse in your own home or suspecting abuse in a custody situation brings its own set of challenges and concerns. You may be afraid of what your abuser will do to you and your children if you speak up. You may also be concerned that the abuser will be able to cover his or her tracks or even turn the abuse around onto you. Culturally, it may not be acceptable for you to separate, adding additional feelings of shame and isolation. You may also be afraid of having your children taken away from you.
Don’t go it alone
Domestic violence isn’t just about black eyes. Manipulation and emotional threats to you and your children are also a form of abuse, power, and control. Fear of losing custody of the children can be extremely stressful for both women and men in abusive relationships. Child abuse allegations in divorce or child custody issues are viewed very carefully to ensure they are not motivated by vindictiveness. However, if your abuser appears professional, well-groomed, and well-spoken to the outside world, you may feel like your concerns aren’t being taken seriously. Worse, if your allegations remain unproven, they may even result in the abuser being given custody.
Therefore, if you are planning to separate, or have already separated and are in a custody battle, it is essential to get support and legal advice. Domestic violence organizations can help you connect with legal resources in your community, and may be able to provide an advocate to assist your case and attend court hearings. Domestic violence organizations can help you work out a safety plan for both you and your children, and in the U.S. can also help you make calls to CPS if needed.
Tips on how to report child abuse in your home or in a custody situation
- Stay CALM. Do not let your emotions dictate your actions, and do not vent your emotions onto the people who are assigned to investigate your case (CPS, law enforcement officers, etc.).
- IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY: Call 911 or your local police.
- DOCUMENT EVERYTHING from this point forward, including times, dates, and places. KEEP all documents from all professionals who have an opinion about the child abuse. This includes therapists, doctors, policemen, and teachers. If a professional informs you that they have an opinion or a suspicion of child abuse, have them document that suspicion, preferably in the form of an affidavit. Be sure to get a copy of any opinions from professionals regarding your child’s case.
- HAVE YOUR CHILD EVALUATED. Talk to medical and psychology professionals. If possible, have your child evaluated at a Child Assessment Center.
- BEGIN INVESTIGATION. Talk to law enforcement officers to initiate an investigation into the allegation of child abuse. Any reasonable belief of abuse or neglect should be reported to the police. If you have been too afraid to voice allegations in the past, let them know. If you have previously reported abuse, communicate the fact that you are trying to protect the child from further harm
- TALK TO CPS. If the abuse is not criminal, talk to CPS to initiate an investigation into the allegation of child abuse.
- GET AN ATTORNEY. Get an attorney and start proceedings to gain full custody of your child and terminate the abuser’s parental rights.
- CALL JUSTICE FOR CHILDREN. If you encounter a problem with completing steps 3-6, call JFC at 1-800-733-0059. Office hours are M-F 8-5 pm Central Standard Time.
Ways to help the child
How to respond when a child discloses abuse
- Remain calm. A child may retract information or stop talking if he/she senses a strong reaction.
- Believe the child. Children rarely make up stories about abuse.
- Listen without passing judgment. Most children know their abusers and often have confused feelings.
What to say to the child
- I believe you.
- I know it’s not your fault.
- I’m glad I know about it.
- I’m sorry this happened to you.
- I will take care of you—you don’t need to take care of me.
- I’m not sure what will happen next.
- Nothing about you made this happen.
- I am upset, but not with you.
- I’m angry at the person who did this.
- I’m sad. You may see me cry. That’s all right. I’m not mad at you.
- I don’t know why he did it. He has a problem.
- We need to get help, so this doesn’t happen again.
- I know this isn’t easy for you to talk about, but there are some people who need to know what happened so they can help keep you and other children safe.
Support the child emotionally.
- Never blame the child for what happened to him/her.
- Remember to communicate support for the child for having told about the abuse. Use statements like, “You were very brave to tell about what happened. I’m proud of you.” Say it often.
- Don’t communicate anger toward the child as you arrange for various appointments such as the interview, medical exam, and therapy sessions. Your child may believe you are “put out” with having to do this and may feel like a burden.
- Discuss with your child and other professionals what to tell relatives, teachers or friends about the abuse. Every detail does not need to be shared.
- Never use threats or intimidation to help make sure that the child is telling the truth.
- Don’t pretend, in an effort to return your child to normal life, that nothing has happened to your child. This can communicate the wrong message
Keep the child safe—physically and emotionally.
- Keep the child away from the person suspected of the abuse.
- Ensure that the offender does not telephone the home where the child resides at any time when the child victim might answer the phone.
- Keep all your conversations with the offender, if any occur, in a room with the door closed and always away from the child.
- If you, as the protective parent, choose to meet with the offender, do so during school times or when the child is visiting a friend or relative. These meetings should be private and should not be discussed with the child. It is never okay for a parent or other relative to pass on messages from the offender to the child.
- Do not “ship off” the child to a relative so that you can see the offender in the house.
- Do not leave your child with a relative or friend who either doesn’t know or doesn’t believe the report of abuse, especially in a place where the offender might stop by and visit or call.
- If the offender breaks any supervision or protection rules, notify the investigating officer and caseworker as soon as possible. If you fail to do this, the court may see you as an unprotective parent, and you may run the risk of losing custody of your child. This is especially true if you allow contact between the offender and child.
Protect the investigation.
- Be careful not to question the child about the abuse. Repeated questioning by untrained professionals will only serve to compromise the investigation. If the child chooses to talk about what happened, listen supportively, but do not probe or ask any questions that may be considered leading or suggestive. This is very important.
- If you are aware of any child pornography, of any sexual solicitation, or your child (who is under 18) receives any sexually explicit images, you should turn your computer off and leave it off to preserve any evidence for future law enforcement use.
- Unless your law enforcement agency asks you to do so, DO NOT attempt to copy or print any of the images or text found on the computer.
- Don’t discuss the case, the offender’s bond, or jail arrangement within hearing distance of the child.
- Never coach or advise your child on how to act or what to say to the professionals on the investigation team. This may be seen as interfering in the case or not being cooperative with the system.
By the time you finish reading this, 15 children will have been abused; In the next five minutes, 30 more; Within the next hour, 360 more; And by tonight, close to 8,000+ children will have suffered from abuse, 5 of which will die. Child abuse has increased 134% since 1980 and is now considered a worldwide epidemic. The high jump in child abuse deaths and the shocking increase in statistics highlights the frightening lack of public knowledge.
Educate Yourself--Learn the Facts--It may Just Save a Child's Life!!