REPORTING SEXUAL ABUSE
IF YOU SEE A CHILD IN IMMEDIATE DANGER
Report non-emergency suspicions or evidence of child abuse to the state Department of Human Services, local law enforcement or state police.
Most Oregon counties also have child abuse hotlines: visit the DHS website for additional information.
LOCAL RESOURCE NUMBERS
Reporting Child Sexual Abuse
Clackamas County, OR 971-673-7112
Clark County, WA 800-562-5624
Multnomah County, OR 503-731-3100
Washington County, OR 503-681-6917
Oregon State Hotline 855-503-7233
Washington State Hotline 866-363-4276
Law Enforcement Resources - Oregon
Sheriff, Clackamas County, OR 503-655-8211
Sheriff, Multnomah County, OR 503-823-3333
(includes Portland and Gresham Police)
Sheriff, Washington County, OR 503-629-0111
Law Enforcement Resources - Washington
Police, Vancouver, WA 360-487-7400
Sheriff, Clark County, WA 360-397-2211
NATIONAL RESOURCE NUMBERS
National Child Abuse Hotline 800-422-4453
National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-4673
Child Advocacy Centers (Western Region) www.westernregionalcac.org
Reporting Requirements by State www.childwelfare.gov
Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Education www.darkness2light.org
Who must report:
In general, mandated reporters include any and all personnel whose jobs are related to child caring activities. Those include volunteers, para-professionals and grounds personnel, as well as direct care staff, teachers, vocational supervisors and medical personnel.
Mandatory reporters must be prepared to provide their name and any agency affiliation when reporting, basic information including identification of the suspected abuse victim, and why you suspect abuse has occurred. If you are a mandated reporter, you must call the authorities within 24 hours and follow up with a written report within 72 hours. The report should include information about the suspected victim and perpetrator(s), a brief summary of the situation, and information that identifies you as the responsible reporting party. Failure to report suspected abuse properly can result in fines or imprisonment for mandatory reporters.
Who may report:
Anyone may file a report of suspected child abuse or neglect. If you are not mandated to report you have an option to file your report anonymously. This is important to those who are afraid of possible physical, verbal or social reprisals if it becomes known that they have made the report.
When should a report be made?
You should report when you have a valid suspicion of abuse or neglect. Your suspicion should be based on tangible evidence, the child’s statement, your observation of behavioral, physical or psychological cues, as well as your “gut feelings.” Even though you do not have to prove abuse or “make sure” it exists before you report, you have a responsibility to get as much information as possible from as many sources as you can before reporting. Many people are unclear on this issue, and the temptation is to react instead of respond. Get advice if you are unsure.
Always report if you sense the child is in imminent danger.
What if the abuser is a child or adolescent?
Children and/or youth who act out sexually or offend other children/youth are telling you that they have likely been (or are currently being) abused. Typically, criminal charges are not filed if the offending youth is 14 years old or younger. A key factor is the age difference between the offender and the offended (a difference in age of 3 years or more brings heavier consequences). Juvenile Justice will handle youthful offender cases and each will be adjudicated on a case by case basis. The goal for youthful offenders is to stop the offending and help the offender get the help they need.
To whom do you report?
If the suspected abuse victim is a child, you may report to Child Protective Services or the local enforcement agency (police, county sheriff, etc.). Usually these are the only two agencies authorized to receive and respond to suspected abuse reports for children.
What should be reported?
When your suspicion of possible child abuse is based on tangible evidence, the child’s statement, your observation of behavioral, physical or psychological cues, as well as your “gut feeling,” it should be reported. The abuse may have been a one-time occurrence or a pattern of abusive acts. Following are reportable offenses:
• Physical Abuse: when you notice signs of excessive physical abuse of a child. This may appear as marks or bruises on their body, your own witness to the abuse or the child’s disclosure of abuse.
• Sexual Abuse: any sexuality with a child is considered abusive. This includes but is not limited to overt sexual behavior by an adult or older child, kissing, fondling the vagina/penis/breasts or buttocks, sexual intercourse, oral sex, taking sexual photographs of a child, forced nudity, prostitution, sexual acts committed in the presence of a child, nudity in the presence of a child, or exposing a child to pornography or sexually graphic images or movies, among other behaviors.
• Emotional/Verbal Abuse: this generally refers to pattern of verbal assaults upon a child which is designed to “put down,” humiliate, or otherwise psychologically injure the child. This includes bullying and threats by either peers or adults.
• Severe Neglect: a pattern of failing to adequately provide for the physical, mental, medical or emotional needs of a child.
NOTE: It is important to be aware that it is a pattern of continued behavior that is generally required to be considered a reportable offense. An occasional outburst within families is considered normal, unless it results in serious physical or mental injury.
Sexual incidents, however, are always considered abusive.
What happens after I report? Can I find out how the investigation is going and how it ends up?
In most states, mandatory reporters are the only ones who have the right to receive information on the progress and outcome of the investigation. Be prepared to follow up with prosecutors and detectives as they will not automatically provide this information to you.
Sources: Child Welfare Information Gateway; TrueNorth Star Ministries in collaboration with local law enforcement