One of the most difficult problems we face is the physical and sexual abuse of America's children. The effects of these damaging experiences on children can ripple through at least three generations as its contagious effects stress our mental health, educational, welfare, law enforcement, and our prison systems. The social costs in the form of psychological harm to our population and tax revenues consumed are huge.
In all 50 states, we are required to report child physical and sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities. It is essential to call your regional Child Protective Services Agency (CPS) if you have an honest fear that any child you know is being abused, including your own.
It is very easy to turn away, to assume that someone else will take care of the problem, or that despite your real concerns, abuse might not really be happening. But children cannot protect themselves damaging abuse and it is not our responsibility to determine if abuse is truly happening or not. That is the responsibility of CPS.
It is very difficult to report abuse by members of our own families. Sometimes good people feel that they have found a way to protect their own children from further abuse and feel that the matter can therefore be closed. But the problem is not closed. The abused child may need counseling to minimize their harmful experiences. Furthermore, the abuser will most likely go on to abuse other children. Continued abuse of other children is virtually certain with those who are sexual abusers: whether they be adults, teens, or older children.
It is important that we understand that:
- We are required to make a report.
- If we honestly make a report of our fear for a child's welfare, this is called "good faith" and we are protected from prosecution.
- If we fail to make a report, we can be prosecuted through legal or civil action.
- We not only have a legal obligation to make a report of child abuse, we also have moral obligation to do so.
Please go to the following link to learn more about the legal requirements that we all report suspected child abuse.