Children and Family Services
Home ] Up ] Frequently Asked Questions ] Who We Are? ] Heart Gallery ] Services ] Contact Us ] Mandated Reporters ] Events Calendar ] Making News ] CFS Business Reports ]

Navigate
Child Protective Services


Home
Who Are We?
Department Information
Employment Opportunities
Questions & Answers
Reporting Child Abuse
Contact Us
What's New
Mandated Reporters
Heart Gallery
HSNet
 
Learn More

Learn More

 

Recognize the Warning Signs

Nervousness around adults
Aggression toward adults or other children
Sudden, dramatic changes in personality or activities
Frequent or unexplained bruises or injuries
Low self-esteem

If you see these signs in any children you know, offer your help.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions


What are some indicators of child maltreatment?
What are the common signs of child maltreatment?
How does one recognize physical abuse?
What should I do if I think a child has been abused or neglected?
What if the person causing the harm or neglect is someone I know? Can I call anonymously?
What information do I need when I make a report?
How do I know that Children Services is investigating my report?
What information am I entitled to?
Why should I get involved?
What does the social worker do?
What are the criteria for reporting suspected child abuse/neglect?
Information needed when reporting:
What happens when I report child abuse?
Who should report allegations of abuse or neglect to Children and Family Services?
What should be reported to Children and Family Services?

 

About Child Maltreatment

What are some indicators of child maltreatment?

They fall into four general categories:

  • Physical Abuse: unexplained bruises, welts, human bite marks, bald spots; unexplained burns, cigarette or immersion burns; unexplained fractures, lacerations, or abrasions.

  • Neglect Abuse: abandonment; unattended medical needs; consistent lack of supervision; consistent hunger; inappropriate dress; and poor hygiene.

  • Sexual Abuse: torn, stained or bloody underclothing; pain or itching in the genital area; difficulty walking or sitting; bruises or bleeding in the external genitalia; venereal disease; frequent urinary or yeast infections.

  • Emotional Abuse: speech disorders; delayed physical development; witnessing domestic violence; substance abuse; increased severity in existing conditions. (Top)



What are the common signs of child maltreatment?

  • REPEATED INJURIES: Bruises, welts, burns. Parents may seem unconcerned, deny that anything is wrong, or give unlikely explanations for the injuries.

  • NEGLECTED APPEARANCE: Children often are badly nourished, inadequately clothed, are left alone or are wandering at all hours, always seem as if nobody cares. (Sometimes, though, over-neatness may be a sign of abuse.)

  • DISRUPTIVE BEHAVIOR: Very aggressive, negative behavior constantly repeated can signal a desperate need for attention and help.

  • PASSIVE WITHDRAWN BEHAVIOR: When children are excessively shy and friendless, it may indicate that there are serious problems at home.

  • PARENTS WHO ARE "SUPER-CRITICAL": Parents who discipline their children frequently and severely may begin to abuse them when their unrealistic standards are not met.

  • FAMILIES THAT ARE EXTREMELY ISOLATED: Parents who don't share in school or community activities and resent friendly contacts may be distrustful of people, afraid of their help.

Use caution and good sense in identifying child abuse. Every parents makes errors in judgment and action at some time but when it becomes plain that there is a pattern or it is becoming one, then it's time for help. (Top)



How does one recognize physical abuse?

Unexplained, chronic, or repeated bruising. Be especially alert to bruises:

  • On the face, throat, upper arms, buttocks, thighs, or lower back in unusual patterns or shapes which suggest the use of an instrument (loop, lash, linear, circular or rectangular marks)

     

    • On an infant

    • In the shape of bite or pinch marks

    • In clusters

    • In various stages of healing

     

  • Unexplained burns. Be especially alert to:

    • Cigarette burns. This type of burn is circular, and often found on the child's palms, soles of feet, genitalia, or abdomen.

    • Immersion burns. These burns characteristically will produce sharp lines of demarcation and appear on the buttocks, genital area, or extremities. On the hands and feet, burns can produce a "glove" or "stocking" effect; on the buttocks, immersion burns often will be "doughnut shaped."

    • Rope burns in the shape of common household utensils or appliances.

  • Unexplained skeletal injuries. Skeletal injuries resulting from physical abuse often include:

    • injury to the facial structure, skull, and bones around the joints

    • fractures and dislocations caused by a severe blow or twisting or pulling of the arm or leg

    • any skeletal injury in an infant

    • other unexplained or repeated injuries
      Injuries resulting from physical abuse often include:

    • lacerations, abrasions, welts, scars, human bite or pinch marks

    • missing, chipped, or loosened teeth, tearing of the gum tissue, lips, tongue, and skin surrounding the mouth

    • loss of hair/bald patches

    • broken eardrum

    • retinal hemorrhage

    • abdominal injuries (Top)



What should I do if I think a child has been abused or neglected?

Call the local child protective services agency or local law enforcement. If you have concerns about a family residing in the San Bernardino area call 384-9233, outside of San Bernardino area call: 1-800-827-8724. (Top)

What if the person causing the harm or neglect is someone I know? Can I call anonymously?

We understand that you may be reluctant to tell us who you are, or even hesitant about calling at all. Reporting child abuse is not pleasant, especially when it involves the children of a relative, neighbor or friend. However, the worst thing you can do is nothing. Before you make the decision not to call, remember that the abuse or neglect the child may be experiencing will likely continue if you fail to act. Yes, you can make a report anonymously, but we prefer that you give us your name. Your identity will be kept confidential; we will not give your name to the person allegedly harming the child, nor to the child's family. (Top)

What information do I need when I make a report?

  • Date(s) and descriptions(s) of the injuries or dangers

  • Identities of perpetrator(s) and their relationship/s to the victim

  • Witnesses to the incident(s) and how they may be reached

  • Details of any physical evidence available

  • Does the perpetrator’s have current access to the child

  • Present condition of the child (alone, in need of medical attention, etc.)

  • The location of the child and directions to get there

  • Any statements from the child (Top)

How do I know that Children Services is investigating my report?

We take every report seriously, rest assured. If there is enough information available to suggest a child is at risk of abuse or neglect, we will most certainly investigate.
However, because we must keep case information confidential, and because we try our best to keep children in their own homes, there may be occasions when those who report child abuse and neglect do not see any immediate change in the situation. Because the child is not removed from the home or they do not hear back from Children Services, they may mistakenly conclude that we are not taking action.
But in fact, we are taking action. If we determine that children are at risk of abuse or neglect, we're already working to connect the family with community services that will help them toward stability. (Top)

What information am I entitled to?

Just as you have confidentiality rights as a reporter of child abuse and neglect, the family of the child has an expectation of privacy as well. Therefore, in accordance with the law we do not provide any information about our investigations.

However, if you are a mandated reporter (see below) you are by law entitled to certain information:

  • Disposition of your report -- whether or not Children Services will initiate an investigation;

  • Notification of when the investigation is complete;

  • Whether or not Children Services will continue its involvement with the family after the investigation has been concluded;

  • Whether or not Children Services is otherwise involved with the child who is the subject of the report;

  • The general status of the health and safety of the child who is the subject of the report;

  • Whether or not the report has resulted in the filing of a complaint in juvenile court or of criminal charges in another court;

  • Identification of a designated contact person at Children Services;

  • Any information that would assist in service provision to the child. (Top)

Why should I get involved?

For your own sake...and for the family's sake. Child abuse is a tragedy that affects us all:

  • #990000A SOCIAL BURDEN--permanent mental or physical damage caused by child abuse can rob a person of the ability to be an independent, productive citizen.

  • #990000A LEGAL BURDEN--crime, delinquency, drug and alcohol addiction, etc., often result when a person has been mistreated as a child.

  • #990000THE ABUSED CHILD AND FAMILY CAN'T HELP THEMSELVES--abuse is a vicious cycle usually passed on from generation to generation.

  • #990000THEY WANT TO BE HELPED AND CAN BE--the great majority of these troubled parents can learn how to be good mothers and fathers, to enjoy their children.

  • #990000TO BREAK THE ABUSE CYCLE, THE COMMUNITY....YOU....MUST BECOME AWARE OF HOW SERIOUS THE PROBLEM REALLY IS....AN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. (Top)

What does the social worker do?

The social worker interviews the child and family to evaluate the situation. The worker, whose primary responsibility is the PROTECTION OF THE CHILD, may offer services to help reduce the problems of the family and child. These include:

  • counseling

  • referrals to self-help groups

  • assistance in obtaining medical care, emergency shelter, transportation

  • temporary in-home caretaker to help parents and children

What are the criteria for reporting suspected child abuse/neglect?

  • The report pertains to a child under the age of 18 years.

  • The report alleges harm or imminent risk of harm to the child.

  • The alleged perpetrator is:

    • a parent or caretaker

    • a relative or other person living in the home

    • an educator, volunteer, or employee of a recreational/organizational setting who is responsible for the child; or any individual providing treatment, care or supervision for the child.(Top)

Information needed when reporting:

  • Nature of the harm or specific incident(s) that precipitated the report

    • Date(s) and descriptions(s) of the injuries or dangers

    • Identities of perpetrator(s) and their relationship/s to the victim

    • Witnesses to the incident(s) and how they may be reached

    • Details of any physical evidence available

    • Does the perpetrator’s have current access to the child

    • Present condition of the child (alone, in need of medical attention, etc.)

    • The location of the child and directions to get there

    • Any statements from the child

  • How the reporter came to know the information and the reporter's thoughts about the likelihood of further harm to the child(ren).(Top)

What happens when I report child abuse?
 

When a person notifies the Department of Children and Family Services regarding possible abuse or neglect of a child, Children and Family Services social work staff determines how quickly to proceed with an investigation by assessing the referral information and focusing on the present and future risks to the child. Considering the condition of the child and the risk of future maltreatment helps a social worker determine how quickly to respond to a CFS referral and what priority to assign that referral. This process involves accepting oral or written allegations of child abuse or neglect for further investigation, gathering the information to determine the need for CFS and the urgency of the situation and initiating the appropriate response and an investigative plan.(Top)


Who should report allegations of abuse or neglect to Children and Family Services?
 

The Department of Children and Family Services encourages everyone to report suspected child abuse and neglect. The exception is those professions that have an inherent responsibility to report by virtue of their positions, and thus they are mandated to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Mandated reporters are those individuals who in the course of their work come in contact with families and children.


The following professionals are Mandated reporters (Penal Code Section 11165.7) and as such are required to report suspected/alleged child abuse and neglect to a child protective agency (police or CFS) and file a mandated reporter form within 36 hours of submitting an oral report.

  •  Any one whose duties require direct contact and supervision of children.

  • Medical, Dental and Hospital Personnel.(including: physicians, surgeons, dentists, residents, interns, podiatrists, chiropractors, licensed nurses, dental hygienists, optometrists, medical examiners, coroners, emergency medical technicians I & II, paramedics,

  • Mental Health Professionals and Counselors (including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed and unlicensed marriage, family and child counselors and trainees, psychological assistants.)

  • School Officials and Educators (including public, classified or private: teachers, instructional aides, teacher’s assistants, administrative officers, supervisors of child welfare and attendance, administrators or employees of a county office of education or the California Department of Education, school police.)

  • Social Service Personnel (including: public assistance workers, social workers, clinical social workers, child visitation monitors, county welfare employees.)

  • Clergy (including priests, ministers, rabbis, religious practitioners, or similarly functionary of a church, temple or recognized denomination or organization.)

  • Day Camp or Child-Care Providers (including public or private: administrators, licensees & employees of any youth center, youth recreational program, youth organization, licensed community care or child day care facility.)

  • Commercial Film and Photographic Print Processors (including those that develop exposed negatives, slides, or prints.)

  • Law Enforcement Personnel (including: any employee of any police department, county sheriff’s department, and county probation department. This includes probation officers, parole officers, police officers, & peace officers.)(Top)


What should be reported to Children and Family Services?


Child abuse and neglect occurs when a child is mistreated, resulting in injury or risk of harm. Abuse can be physical, verbal, emotional or sexual.

  • Physical Abuse is defined as non-accidental physical trauma or injury inflicted by a parent or caretaker on a child. It also includes a parent's or a caretaker's failure to protect a child from another person who perpetrated physical abuse on a child. In its most severe form, physical abuse is likely to cause great bodily harm or death.

  • Physical Neglect is defined, as the failure to provide for a child's physical survival needs to the extent that there is harm or risk of harm to the child's health or safety. This may include, but is not limited to abandonment: lack of supervision, life endangering physical hygiene, lack of adequate nutrition that places the child below the normal growth curve, lack of shelter, lack of medical or dental that results in health threatening conditions, and the inability to meet basic clothing needs of a child. In its most severe form, physical neglect may result in great bodily harm or death.

  • Sexual Abuse includes penetration or external touching of a child's intimate parts, oral sex with a child, indecent exposure or any other sexual act performed in a child's presence for sexual gratification, sexual use of a child for prostitution, and the manufacturing of child pornography. Child sexual abuse is also the willful failure of the parent or the child's caretaker to make a reasonable effort to stop child sexual abuse by another person.

  • Emotional Abuse includes verbal assaults, ignoring and indifference or constant family conflict. If a child is degraded enough, the child will begin to live up to the image communicated by the abusing parent or caretaker.(Top)

 

These are just several examples of the questions that may be asked when reporting abuse or neglect. The reporter's identity is confidential, but a name should be given so the Department could follow-up contact with the reporter if necessary. The reporter is free from civil or criminal liability for reports of suspected child abuse or neglect made in good faith.

 

The social worker's activities are designed to protect children and enable families to stay together whenever possible. (Top)




Home ] Up ] Frequently Asked Questions ] Who We Are? ] Heart Gallery ] Services ] Contact Us ] Mandated Reporters ] Events Calendar ] Making News ] CFS Business Reports ]

© Copyright 2003 Children and Family Services.  All rights reserved.
Designed & Maintained by ITSD, SB County