If you or someone you love is experiencing childhood sexual abuse, there are many ways to report what is going on. In situations of potential childhood sexual abuse (CSA), a “good faith” report to authorities can be filed. This means that no definitive proof is needed. If you witness a boundary violation, or repeated boundary violations, by an adult or a child, or have had to intervene in a situation during a boundary violation, you can, and should, report the incident. Additionally, if a child discloses an abuse to you, or you see physical signs that a child is being abused, the situation should also be reported. You do not need to provide proof to authorities that these incidents occurred or that they were definitive examples of CSA. 1,2
The important thing is that the potentially dangerous situation is disclosed to the appropriate organizations
If you suspect that a child is being sexually abused, you can call the police, as well as any child abuse hotline, such as the National Sexual Assault telephone hotline (800-656-HOPE), the Stop It Now! Hotline (1-888-PREVENT), or the Darkness to Light hotline for childhood sexual abuse (866-FOR-LIGHT). These hotlines will help you find more information on how and where to report abuse in your area. Some organizations suggest contacting Child Protective Services (CPS), or a related organization in your area, when you are reporting abuse on a child from their primary caregiver. This will allow CPS to investigate the child’s home life, and potentially remove the perpetrator from the child’s environment.3 When the abuse is carried out by an individual who isn’t the primary caregiver, it is often recommended to call the police first.
When filing a report, it’s important to have as much information as possible
Information can including the names, demographic information, and ages of all adults and children involved, as well as potential locations to find them. Be prepared to give as much information as you have been given, and let the authorities know where your information is lacking, or what you do not know. Also, be ready to provide any information regarding the adults or children that may impact investigators, including any disabilities, safety concerns, or weapons that may be involved. Many areas of the country allow you to file an anonymous report.1,2
If you know of someone who is in possession of, is making, or is distributing child pornography, you can call the Cybertipline at 1-800-843-5678 or contact them online at www.cybertipline.com. The Cybertipline can also investigate other inappropriate behaviors that may be occurring on the internet.3
- Making a Report. Darkness to Light. https://www.d2l.org/get-help/reporting/making-a-report/. Accessed January 20, 2018.
- When and How to File. Stop It Now! http://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/when-and-how-to-file. Accessed January 20, 2018.
- What is Child Protective Services? Stop It Now! http://www.stopitnow.org/ohc-content/what-is-child-protective-services. Accessed January 20, 2018.