Unfortunately, sexual abuse is not as uncommon as we would like to think it is. It affects both girls and boys of all ages, from every kind of neighborhood and of all races. Studies have found that about one of every four girls and one of every eight boys has reported incidents of sexual abuse. In 85% of reported sexual abuse cases, the offender is known to the child as a friend, relative, or neighbor.
Talking with children about the privacy of their bodies and what are appropriate kinds of touching is a precaution; like teaching them to cross the street safely, wear seat belts, and not to play with matches. Teaching kids good boundaries helps to keep them safe. Not talking about these issues won’t make them go away.
Teaching young children that their bodies are private doesn’t have to be about sex. It can be as simple as reminding children that the parts of their bodies covered by a swimsuit are private.
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The following marks and abrasions can be strongly indicative of physical abuse especially when combined with a child’s description of how the injury was inflicted. Another strong indicator of child abuse is an explanation for injuries that would be unusual in a given age group. For example, a broken arm or leg in a four-month old child is blamed on a fall down the stairs.
Signs of physical abuse may include:
The best indicator of sexual abuse is a disclosure by the child regarding the sexual activity.
Other indicators may be:
Neglect can be indicated by a child who is chronically dirty or dressed inappropriately for the weather, a child who is frequently hungry or sleepy and reports being unable to eat or sleep regularly at home, a child who does not attend school regularly or one who has not been enrolled in school, a child who remains untreated or is treated inappropriately for a medical problem or a child who describes being left alone and unable to care for himself.
A good indicator of endangerment is a description by a child of events that may place him in danger such as being involved in a physical, domestic fight between adults in the home, seeing illegal drugs being used or sold, or having access to loaded guns kept in the home.
Call Community and Veterans Services at 320-983-8208 for more information.
The most important reason to report child abuse is to protect the child from further abuse. Children have few resources for changing the circumstances of their lives, and children who are being hurt by their caretakers rely on the intervention of others to protect them. Reporting abuse is also a way to ensure that parents who need help but are not able to ask for it are offered parenting resources. Call Community and Veterans Services at 320-983-8208 for more information.
Describe the situation to child protection or Law Enforcement. Remember that often the most serious abuse occurs in private and away from anyone but the children involved. County Child Protection staff is available to answer questions regarding what is reportable. Call Community and Veterans Services at 320-983-8208 for more information.
Law Enforcement Departments and Mille Lacs County Child Protection are the agencies charged with receiving reports of child abuse occurring in Mille Lacs County. These agencies are also responsible for the joint investigation of child abuse allegations. You may report suspicions of child abuse to Law Enforcement Departments 24 hours a day by calling 911. The operator will ask you to describe the circumstances. You may also call Mille Lacs County Child Protection at 320-983-8208.
When reporting suspicions of child abuse, be prepared to provide as much information as you have including the names and addresses of the child and parents and specific data about what happened, who was involved, and when and where the events took place. Other helpful information is what school the child attends, who else might have information about the child’s situation, where the child is now, and the names of siblings or other members of the household.
Any report made to the Law Enforcement Department will automatically be cross-reported to Mille Lacs County Child Protection, as any report made to Mille Lacs County Child Protection will be sent to the Law Enforcement Department. This is included in the Minnesota State Statutes outlining requirements for child abuse investigations.
Minnesota law requires that any person whose job involves working professionally with children and who knows or has reason to believe that a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused must immediately report the suspected incident to local Law Enforcement and/or child protection. The duty to report extends to childcare workers, school personnel, physical and mental health care providers, and law enforcement officers, among others. The report must be made immediately or within 24 hours, followed by a written report within 72 hours. You will need to complete the Child Abuse/Neglect reporting form.
Minnesota law requires reporting by mandated reporters who know or have reason to believe that a child is being abused or has been abused within the past three years. A mandated reporter who fails to make a report under those circumstances may be found guilty of a misdemeanor. Call Community and Veterans Services at 320-983-8208 for more information.
No, you will not. Anyone reporting in good faith (with a reasonable belief) may not be criminally prosecuted or sued in civil court for:
A person who knowingly or recklessly makes a false report is not protected from prosecution or civil suit.