Failing to Report Child Abuse is a Crime. What happened and what you need to know.

Not reporting child abuse is also a crime

In what the sheriff called the worst case of child abuse in the modern USA, sheriff’s deputies in Pulaski County discovered a three-year-old girl that was being kept in a wooden box. Nine occupants of the home, (all adults) including the father to the toddler were arrested for failure to report the abuse and neglect. Five other minors at home were taken in by Pulaski County Indian Department of Child Services.1

What does the law say about child abuse?

Child abuse is any cruelty that is inflicted on any child. This may include neglect, sexual abuse, exploitation, mental abuse, and physical harm. There are also specific crimes that can accrue in cases of child abuse that include battery and assault.5 2
There is a mandatory reporting law that establishes certain professionals as mandatory reporters. The law requires that people who work closely with the children in their normal duty bring to the attention of the police or appropriate authority in cases where there is suspected abuse. These professionals include daycare workers, school officials, nurses, doctors, social workers, and the law enforcement personnel. Over 18 states also require any citizen with the knowledge of suspicion of abuse to report the same to the relevant authorities. Failure to do so results in certain penalties and punishment. This may include fines, jail time or both forms of punishment.3 4

Where do the victims of the abuse go?

All states in the USA have child protective services agencies that investigate all the reports of child abuse and neglect. Where a child is determined to have been neglected or abused, CPS may place such children to safer home through foster care or adoption.3

 How do you tell that the child has been abused?

There are several warning signs that a child has been abused. They include:

  • Sexual abuse: Such a child may have difficulty sitting or walking, refusal to change clothing in front of others, nightmares, bedwetting, or sudden appetite changes.
  • Physical abuse: There may be unexplained bruises, broken bones, bites, and burns
  • Emotional abuse: This is characterized by extreme behaviors, self-isolation from the rest, delay in mental development, cases of attempted suicide, or where one overhears a guardian or caregiver belittling the child.
  • Neglect: The signs of neglect include unexplained and frequent absences from school, poor body hygiene, malnutrition, a sickly child without evidence of medical attention, or cases where the child stays alone at home.3

Many states have a toll-free landline where you can report cases of child abuse.