Child abuse is any act that puts a child’s health in serious danger. The abusive act can be physical, mental, or sexual.
Physical abuse may cause the child bruises or broken bones. Harmful spoken words can be mental abuse. Sexual abuse includes rape or incest.
Failure to act can also be abuse. This is called neglect. A child who is neglected is one whose basic needs have not been met. Basic needs include things like food and clothing.
Signs of child abuse and neglect
Some signs of child abuse include:
- Repeat injuries, burns, or welts on the child
- Unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
- Unmet medical needs
- Repeat bad behavior that is extreme, such as fighting, lying, or stealing
- Any big change in a child’s behavior.
- Warning signs for child abuse or neglect
If you suspect a child is being abused:
- Call the 24-hour Department of Children and Families Child Protection Hotline at 1-(800)-792-5200 or local DCF office. You will find a directory of the DCF Area Offices at www.mass.gov/dcf. Offices are staffed between 9 am and 5 pm weekdays. DCF is not allowed to share your name; [is this true in Mass?] or
- Call 911 if you believe the child is in danger or harm.