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Child abuse is a widespread issue.
Child abuse is impacting not only the nation but our local communities with prolonged consequences impacting physical and mental health.
In 2019, of the 2,033 children who received a forensic interview and/or exam by the Riverside County Child Assessment Team, 242 or 11.9% were children referred from the San Jacinto Valley.
REACH’s service area has the highest child forensic interviews/exams per capita by population in Riverside County.
The impact of child abuse and neglect (child maltreatment) can be profound and may last long after the trauma occurred. Although not all forms of abuse and neglect may cause visible injuries, the consequences for children, families, and society can last through generations. Effects can appear in childhood, adolescence, or adulthood and may affect various aspects of an individual’s development (e.g., physical, psychological, behavioral,) and have societal consequences.
REACH recognizes the impact that child maltreatment has on children in our communities. We work to counter this with services that are child-centered and trauma-informed.
REACH provides comprehensive treatment services to children under the age of 18 who have experienced physical abuse, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, neglect, emotional abuse, witness to violence in the home, parental chemical substance abuse, child abduction, crime, and/or bullying per California Education Code 48900 (r).
Types of child abuse.
Any intentional harm or mistreatment to a child under 18 years old is considered child abuse. In many cases, child abuse is done by someone the child knows and trusts — often a parent or other relative.
Child abuse takes many forms, which often occur at the same time.
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Exposure to Family Violence
Signs and symptoms of child abuse.
A child who’s being abused may feel guilty, ashamed or confused. He or she may be afraid to tell anyone about the abuse, especially if the abuser is a parent, other relative or family friend. That’s why it’s vital to watch for red flags, such as:
- Withdrawal from friends or usual activities
- Changes in behavior — such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity — or changes in school performance
- Depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence
- An apparent lack of supervision
- Frequent absences from school
- Reluctance to leave school activities, as if he or she doesn’t want to go home
- Attempts at running away
- Rebellious or defiant behavior
- Self-harm or attempts at suicide
Specific signs and symptoms depend on the type of abuse and can vary. Keep in mind that warning signs are just that — warning signs. The presence of warning signs doesn’t necessarily mean that a child is being abused.
To learn the signs and symptoms by type of abuse, click here.
Source: The Mayo Clinic
Reporting Child abuse.
If you suspect that a child has been abused or neglected, call 1-800-442-4918.
If you’re outside the Riverside area call the Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.
Mandated reporters must immediately report abuse to the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-442-4918. Within 36 hours, mandated reporters are required to submit a written follow-up report.
What information is needed when making a report?
It is helpful to have as much of the information listed below as possible; however, this information is not required to make a suspected child abuse report:
- Names and ages/dates of birth for the child and/or family
- Address for the child and/or family
- The issue that prompted the call and how the information was obtained
- Date(s) and description(s) of the injuries or dangers to the child
- Identities of the perpetrator(s) and their relationship(s) to the victim
- Witnesses to the incident(s) and how they may be reached
- Details of any physical evidence available
- Alleged perpetrator’s current access to the child
- Present condition of the child (alone, in need of medical attention, etc.)
- Any statements from the child
What happens when I report child abuse?
When a person calls the Child Abuse Hotline regarding possible abuse or neglect of a child, a Risk and Safety assessment is completed and a decision is made about how quickly to respond to the report. Response times may be within 24 hours, 10 days, or not at all. If there is no legally defined abuse allegation, the report will be taken and recorded but there will be no in-person response.
When an in-person response is complete, there are several possible outcomes for the family and the child(ren). The investigation may conclude that there is no evidence of abuse or neglect and the case is closed with no further action. The conclusion may be that there is no evidence of abuse or neglect, but the family may be referred for services that will benefit them such as parenting, anger management, or counseling. The investigation may determine that abuse or neglect issues exist but may be resolved by providing Family Maintenance Services. Family Maintenance Services allow the children to stay in the home while the Children’s Services Division works with the family and other service organizations to help the family.
Finally, the investigation may conclude that the child is not safe in his/her home and must be removed from the care of the parent or caretaker. In these instances, court proceedings are initiated. Juvenile Court involvement will continue until the child may be safely reunified with the parent or caretaker or the Children’s Services Division establishes a permanent plan for the child when the child may not be safely reunified with the parent or caretaker.
Confidentiality: The name of the reporting party is confidential. It is not disclosed to the victim, their family, or the alleged abuser.