Making “The Call” – Contacting Child Protective Services

First off it is important to note that services provided by Child Protective Services may differ based on state and locality. For this article I am going to work with information confined to the state of Oregon.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????For any adult or aware individual one of the most heartbreaking scenarios to envision is coming upon a case of child neglect or abuse. You may think you understand how to recognize these situations based on things you have read or seen in the news or unfortunately been touched personally by an event. That being the case I am still betting that if and when the time comes you will have a gut reaction unlike anything you’ve experienced before. In front of your eyes is empirical evidence of neglect and/or abuse. That other-worldly detachment is all to real at that moment. At that instant you realize that you have a combined reaction of disgust, fear, concern, dismay, and either a call to action or an uneasy paralysis of conviction and motivation.

When should you call CPS?
  • Clues > Certain behaviors are indicators of abuse or neglect. If you become aware of these indicators don’t ignore you instincts. A regularly outgoing child becomes withdrawn and sullen. A child who normally interacts with his peers now shies away from the group. Lack of appetite. The sudden onset of discipline problems in school and otherwise doing poorly in school. Granted, these indicators are not proof in and of themselves of anything except your keen observation that something is “different”. You must weigh the information you’ve accumulated and based on what you see and hear decide when the time to make “the call” has arrived. Obvious physical abuse should not be tolerated. Emotional abuse and neglect in other ways may be more difficult to ascertain. If you encounter this child regularly please pay attention to the signs.
Do act
  • Do act if you have concrete evidence
  • Do act if you are a mandatory reporter and you suspect neglect or abuse.
Do not act
  • Do not act if your motivation is out of spite or some feud with the parent or guardian
  • Do not act if you are not sure of what you have observed. Perhaps you have misinterpreted an event. Be confident in your ability to relay proof of suspected neglect or abuse. Even in this case if your gut is telling you that something is wrong, trust your instincts.
  • Don’t let fear of your identity being reported stop you from making “the call”. Most states allow for anonymous reporting to CPS. It is common that your name will not be released to the family involved.
  • Don’t fear the fact that those investigating your report will need to have your contact information as they investigate.
In the face of an obvious emergency call 911
or your local CPS reporting hotline.

Deciding whether it’s time to call or not is a decision only you can make. It is always better to err on the side of protecting a child from harm than worrying about making a “mistake”. Children in abusive situations are rarely able to ask for help. As with most children they are dependent on the adults in their life who are responsible for their care. Your call could be a lifeline to a better life.

If you’d like more information about Child Protective Services and the reporting process, I’ve pulled some articles for you. Here are the links:

By Gret Boyd

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