Unfortunately, children may be neglected, abused or both. Such treatment is illegal. A neglected child is a child that has not been provided with proper care or support, is placed in a dangerous situation, or is abandoned. Abused children are victims of crime – they have been intentionally injured by another person. The injuries may be physical or mental.
Reporting child abuse or neglect
Laws require certain people (teachers, doctors, day care providers) with knowledge of child abuse to report the abuse to a local or state law enforcement agency. However, any person may report abuse or neglect. Proof is not necessary; all that is needed is a belief or suspicion that abuse or neglect has occurred or is occurring.
If I reported child abuse and was wrong, can I be sued by the person I reported?
No. If you made the report in good faith, you are immune from liability. In fact, the failure to report suspected abuse is typically a misdemeanor offense.
How can I be sure I witnessed the treatment of a child that is at the level of abuse?
Abuse is any:
- treatment of a child that causes physical or emotional injury;
- harmful sexual conduct towards a child;
- pornographic photographs, movies or other depictions of children; or
- exposure to drugs or alcohol.
What types of actions constitute neglect?
You may need to report neglect if you are aware of a child:
- being left alone and exposed to harm;
- being placed in a harmful environment or where there is a risk of harm; or
- needing and not receiving food, shelter or medical care.