How to Report Suspected Child Abuse in the United States
Child Abuse Reporting Numbers & Process

The Process of Reporting Child Abuse

If you suspect abuse DON'T WAIT until you can "prove" child abuse -- make a report whenever your worries about the safety of a child turn into suspicions that the child is being abused or neglected. If the abuse is happening right now, call now.

When seeking to report child abuse, it is important to remember these points:

  1. Not every state has a statewide reporting hotline
  2. Not every state hotline will be accessible 24/7
  3. If the state does have a hotline, it may only be accessible within that state
  4. It may take a while to get through to the statewide number, be patient. It may take more than one call. Don't give up.
  5. Child Abuse must be reported within the state in which it occurred.
  6. Be sure to have as much information about the abuse and the child you are reporting as you can. It would be a good idea to organize your information and have it ready before you make the call. Write it down so that you won't forget any information you want to share with the intake worker.

If you don't have all the information suggested below make the call anyway. Let the intake worker tell you if you have enough to make the report. And, if not, what additional information you need.

Suggested information to provide:

  • The child's name, address and phone number
  • The age and gender of the child
  • Where is the child at the time of the report
  • Parent's name, address and phone number
  • Name of the abuser
  • Type of abuse (be as specific about what you have observed as possible). What have you seen, what are your suspicions?
  • Are there other siblings or other children living in the home? If so, their name(s), gender(s) and age(s).
  • School child attends
  • Language barriers, if any
  1. Write down everything about the report that you can. The date you reported, the person you spoke to at the reporting number, and, if they have one, their identification number, and what was said. Keep this information for your records as documentation of your report.
  2. If you are not sure what you are seeing is abuse, always call and ask.
  3. Write down any questions you might have and make sure you ask them. Keep the answers with the rest of your information.
  4. If you do not feel comfortable with what is being said you may always ask to speak to a supervisor.
  5. Remember you can report anonymously, if you are not a mandated reporter (someone who is required by law to report child abuse).