HOW WE CAN HELP
Do you suspect that a child is being abused, but it isn’t your child? If you have a good relationship with a person who loves the child, share the information about abuse from these pages with that person. If the person is unwilling to call law enforcement or Children’s Protective Services, you MUST do it yourself.
In the early 1970s, Congress passed what is known as CAPTA (Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act) which required every state to pass child abuse reporting acts. Some people fear that if they report suspected abuse and charges are not accepted, they may be opening themselves up to a lawsuit or the crime of “false reporting.” Just the opposite is true! Failure to report SUSPECTED abuse is a crime and, if you are a “mandated professional” (such as teachers, school nurses and doctors,) you typically have an even higher burden to report the abuse within 24 hours. Failure to do so, could subject you to civil litigation for negligence and put your license at risk. “False Reporting” statutes are only intended to criminalize malicious reports where the reporter knows the allegation is false and only wants to harm the party they reported against. If you report in good faith, you have nothing to fear and may be saving a child’s life.
Remember, you are not supposed to investigate crimes against children. Leave that to the professionals – Law Enforcement and/or CPS.
Can I report anonymously?
Some states will take your report anonymously. Others may ask you to identify yourself, but your identity will not be revealed in any investigation. The chances of the report being taken seriously greatly increases when you identify yourself.
Who should I call?
JFC always recommends that you 1st contact Law Enforcement. After all, Child Abuse is a crime. Fundamentally, most law enforcement officers are better trained to investigate crimes against children than a CPS caseworker. Importantly, since the focus of law enforcement is to bring the perpetrator to the bar of justice, they cannot make their case unless they collect the evidence needed by a prosecutor and protect their “Complaining Witness.” On the other hand, CPS caseworkers have a very high turnover rate, inadequate training in investigation, do NOT perform a criminal investigation, and are conflicted by the opposing mandates of child protection and “family preservation.”
EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE ORDERS
If abuse is suspected law enforcement, therapists, doctors and other concerned people may instruct parents not to return the children to the alleged abuser. This puts many parents at risk for being in contempt of court ordered custody agreements although they are legally required to maintain the health and well-being of their children.
When contacting law enforcement parents should request an emergency protective order form. In most states this will keep the child from the suspected abuser for 90 days. In this time investigations can continue and the parent is protected from losing custody of the child to the abuser. Parents are also advised to request a case number from responding police to follow the case’s events and eventually obtain a police report.
Ayudar a un niño que lo necesita ahora.
Justice for Children provides guidance through the legal and judicial processes, assists in court watch, and advocates on behalf of children to law enforcement and other governmental agencies. JFC connects individuals with legal resources including pro bono attorneys and helps with protective orders. Justice for Children JFC is also involved in a variety of legal research projects and has contributed to amicus briefs, researching legal issues and providing data on important legal issues affecting the rights of abused children.
Justice for Children assists and refers several thousand callers annually through the complicated and unsympathetic maze of governmental agencies established to protect abused children. Advocating for an abused or neglected child takes on many different forms of participation and involvement. These include researching and gathering supporting documentation; reviewing supporting documentation; referring persons to professionals; guiding them through the legal and judicial process; providing legal assistance with protective orders; initiating child abuse investigations; serving as a liaison to law enforcement and other governmental agencies; generating advocacy correspondence and amicus briefs; acting as facilitator of professional services; court watch; and providing pro bono legal representation and connecting persons with attorneys.
Justice for Children has proposed and drafted legislation to improve the laws pertaining not only to child abuse and child protection, but also laws concerning the funding for protective services. We have also presented legislation designed to make the legal process more child-friendly. Additionally, because of its experience in this area, Justice for Children receives numerous requests to provide testimony regarding various pieces of legislation around the country.
Justice for Children has traditionally provided information and materials to combat child abuse and to educate the public of the signs and symptoms of child abuse or neglect in its efforts to interrupt its dismal cycle. In 2012, it is initiating a project called “Just in Time”, to develop a series of informational and instructional modules to be placed on its website. Each is designed specifically to aid a field on the front lines of identifying and re-mediating child abuse: the community, medical first responders, school personnel, pediatricians, court personnel, and counseling professionals.
We seek to collaborate with other concerned national and community leaders, professionals, institutions, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies to further a common goal of solving the deficiencies in our present child protective systems. By expanding our relationships within the community and on a national level, we are working to create a system that will effectively handle a child’s initial report of abuse, provide immediate safety, and ultimately, prosecute and convict the child abuser.
Justice for Children’s expert opinion continues to be recognized and valued by local and national media, legal and medical professionals, child abuse experts, and various other children’s rights organizations. We have been featured on ABC’s Primetime Live, ABC’s prime-time documentary entitled ‘Crimes Against Children,’ a PBS documentary entitled ‘Boy Crying, Baby Crying,” as well as appearances on Good Morning America, Donahue, the Discovery channel’s “Justice Files,’ HBO and in 2011, the BBC.