Reporting Suspected Child Abuse in North Carolina
- Any person or institution who has cause to suspect that a child is being abused or neglected is required by law to report.
- If you make a report in good faith, you will receive immunity from possible civil or criminal liability that might result from your report. Failure to report a suspected case of child abuse can be punished as a misdemeanor.
- Anyone suspecting child abuse has the right and responsibility to report it.
You can make a report by:
- calling or visiting your county Department of Social Services, Child Protective Services Division; then
- calling or visiting the law enforcement agency where the alleged abuse occurred. If you are unsure which agency has jurisdiction, contact your local sheriff’s office.
Click here for contact information for your local DSS office.
Click here for contact information for your local sheriff’s office.
In the event of an emergency, please call 911 to report the emergency prior to the call to DSS.
- Your report to DSS can be anonymous. You do not have to give your name when making a report.
- You do not need to prove that abuse has taken place; you only need reasonable grounds for suspicion.
- You do not need permission from parents or caregivers to make a report. In fact, you do not need to inform them you are making a report.
- You do not need permission from your workplace to make a report, but there may be guidelines to help you in making a report.
If a child discloses abuse to you…
- When a child tells you that he or she has been abused, the child may be feeling scared, guilty, ashamed, angry, and powerless. You may feel a sense of outrage, disgust, sadness, anger, and sometimes disbelief.
- It is important, however, for you to remain calm and in control or your feelings in order to reassure the child that something will be done to keep him or her safe.
Things to consider…
- Abuse is rarely one physical attack or one isolated incident. Often there is a pattern of behavior that occurs over a period of time. A child may find it difficult to tell anyone that the abuse is occurring. The child may “act out” as a way of expressing his or her hurt or anger.
- It is important to remember that even if you see signs, this does not necessarily mean that the child has been abused. The signs will vary according to the type of abuse, its intensity, and the age of the child.
- Some children who are abused display no signs. For this reason, it is important to listen carefully to any child who tells you about an act of abuse. Be aware of unexplained changes in the behavior of children with whom you have regular contact.
For more information regarding recognizing and responding to child abuse, please visit Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina.