Why should child abuse be reported?
Children are the future of our community. They have a right to be protected and in a safe environment in which to grow. It takes a community to protect a child. We all share in the duty to protect abused and neglected children.

Communities should learn ways to help family, friends and neighbors before abuse/neglect occurs. Most parents love their children and want to do what is best for them. Often times problems such as loss of a job, immaturity, substance abuse, domestic violence, being a new parent or other issues cause stress for a parent.

Support should be given to families who are having problems. Family, friends or neighbors can offer to babysit or assist the family in other ways to help reduce the stress caused by the problems the family is facing.

Communities can be aware of the signs of child abuse and neglect and know what steps to take to assist the family in a time of crisis.

What is child abuse or neglect?
Physical abuse may appear as bruises, marks or injuries inflicted by other than accidental means. It may be the result of excessive or out of control discipline from a parent or caregiver. Sexual abuse may involve any sexual activity between an adult and a child. It can include everything from fondling to rape. The act may also be for the gratification of the perpetrator or a third party, or for exploitation of the child.

Emotional abuse is not as visible as other forms of abuse, but is still very damaging. The law defines it as mental injury; and does not give any real guidelines. A child who is repeatedly belittled, ignored, or blamed for the family's problems, may be emotionally abused.

Neglect is a form of child maltreatment and occurs when a parent or caregiver fails to act on behalf of a child. A child who does not receive adequate food, shelter, clothing, medical care, supervision or education may be neglected.

Dependent is a child who is homeless, destitute or without adequate parental care and support through no fault of the child's parent or caregiver. The child may also be in danger of being abused or neglected because they live in a household in which a sibling or other child who resides in the home is abused, neglected or dependent.

Who to call with concern of child abuse or neglect?
If the child who is being abused or neglected resides in Washington County, call Washington County Children Services. Washington County Children Services has a 24-hour number for reporting abuse or neglect. The number is 740-373-3485. If the child resides in another part of the state or country, call your local child protective service agency or your local law enforcement.

When you call Washington County Children Services during business hours to report abuse or neglect of a child, you will speak to an intake worker. The intake worker will ask a series of questions about not only your concerns, but about the family. These questions are asked to assist Washington County Children Services in determining the best way to respond to the concerns being reported.

A community's understanding of its role in protecting children is important. Getting involved and reporting suspected abuse or neglect of a child is the right thing to do. Children must be able to count on the community to make their world safe and secure.