Reporting child abuse

 Being a witness to an individual’s abusive behavior towards his or her child can be extremely difficult for some people to handle. Some individuals may feel that it is not their “place” to speak up or take action when they witness a stranger, acquaintance, or friend being abusive towards his or her child. However, it is crucial that when and if you ever witness child abuse, you do whatever it takes to ensure that the child is removed from any situation that places him or her in physical danger. So, what should you do when you witness child abuse?

First and foremost, call the authorities. Child abuse can take place anywhere. Some individuals seem to have no issue with abusing their children in public places. Regardless of where you see the abuse taking place, the first thing that you should do is contact local authorities, which will be better equipped to handle the situation and can conduct any subsequently necessary investigations.

If you witness the abuse taking place in a public location that has other means of security, for example security guards or supervisors, you should be sure to let these individuals know what is occurring or has occurred. These people are frequently trained on how to deal with these situations and will likely be more capable of speaking calmly to an abusive parent or caretaker before the local authorities that you contacted arrive. In many cases, these authorities can even detain individuals who are being abusive towards their children.

In many situations, when parents are being abusive and lashing out at their children, there is often a trigger for such an extreme behavior, especially if it is occurring in a public place. The last thing you want to do is put yourself in the way of an individual who clearly cannot control his or her anger. Still, do your best to get as accurate a description of the parent or adult and child as possible. If the authorities do not arrive before the abusive adult and child leave, then you will need to have as much of a detailed description of them as possible to relay to the authorities and to child services. Do your best to remain in the shadows while you observe the nature of the dispute between the adult and child and if you can, write down the license plate number of any vehicle that they depart the location in.

If the abusive adult is a friend, family member, or acquaintance, you should still be able to speak up and ensure that the child is safe and no longer in any danger. You can call your local family services offices and file a report. And, if you wish, you can even remain anonymous. Chances are that if you know these people well enough, you will be able to provide enough information to the child welfare offices in your area for them to conduct an adequate investigation and proceed from there.

Regardless of whether or not you decide to remain anonymous, keep in mind that you have a responsibility to file a report and ask that someone in a position of authority look in the situation that is concerning you. In child abuses cases, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Keeping silent on this issue can undeniably cause irreparable and/or fatal consequences for the child.