Child abuse and neglect are crimes that continue to pervade America. With the month of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, it is incredibly important to recognize the importance of spreading awareness and bringing communities together to prevent child abuse and neglect. Find out how to spot and report child abuse or neglect in Kansas to keep the children in your community safe.
Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect to Look Out For
Child abuse can take the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse or neglect. As a parent, teacher, coach, or anyone else who interacts with children in your community, you have a responsibility to search for signs of possible child abuse and neglect and report any suspicions to Kansas authorities. While every case is unique, certain things often indicate one or more types of child abuse. Look out for the following red flags:
- Frequent unexplained injuries
- Bruises or welts
- Injuries in various stages of healing
- Burn marks
- Rope or whip marks
- Internal injuries
- Bone fractures
- Unkempt appearance
- Wearing the same clothes for multiple days in a row
- Weight loss or frailty
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Pain when walking or sitting
- Behavioral extremes
- Aggression or outbursts
- Feelings of fear or anxiety
- Withdrawal or loss of interest
- Self-harm behaviors
- Drug abuse
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
There are many potential signs of child abuse and neglect. Indicators can be physical or behavioral. If a child verbally reports any form of abuse, take him or her seriously and investigate. Make sure the child knows that you believe him or her and are able to help. Then, take the correct steps to report your suspicions to Kansas authorities.
How to Report Crimes Against Children in Kansas
Under Kansas Statutes Annotated Section 38-2223, you are legally required to report child abuse or neglect (a mandated reporter) if you provide medical care or treatment to children or are licensed to provide mental health services, a teacher or school employee, a firefighter or emergency medical service personnel, a law enforcement officer, or employed to work as a volunteer for any organization that provides social services to pregnant teenagers. Even if you are not a mandated reporter, speaking up could save a child’s life.
Use these tips to report suspected child abuse or neglect in Kansas:
- Only acquire the information necessary. You do not need to know all of the facts to file a report. Asking too many questions can unintentionally make the situation worse or alter the facts of the case.
- If you are working with the child to report abuse or neglect, make sure he or she feels safe telling you these secrets. The child should not feel scared or intimidated by you calling for help or making a report.
- If it is an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, file a report with the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). You can do this orally by calling the Kansas Protection Report Center at (800) 922-5330 or online if you are a mandated reporter.
- Give the DCF the child’s name and address, the names of the child’s parents or guardians, the child’s location, the child’s condition and nature of any injuries, and whether the alleged perpetrator has access to the child.
- Contact a Kansas child sexual abuse attorney if you believe that someone has sexually abused your child. You may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the perpetrator as well as the institution that failed to protect your child, such as a school, church or youth organization.
Once you have made a report of child abuse or neglect in Kansas, you can opt to remain informed about the agency’s decision on whether or not to investigate further. Note that you can report these crimes anonymously if desired. In addition, all persons who report child abuse and neglect are immune from prosecution under Section 38-2223(f) of Kansas law. This means that you will not face any civil liability that may be incurred or imposed for child abuse or neglect. Reporting child abuse or neglect to Kansas authorities can protect the children in your family or community.