What to Do If You Witness Child Abuse

  • Avoid physical confrontation
    As upset as you might be from witnessing child abuse, do not confront the abuser. Alert others in the area whose job it is to handle the situation — such as management or security. 

  • Call 911
    If the abuse is taking place at a location where there is no management or security, contact your local authorities.
  • Ask the adult if he/she needs help
    Offer to help if the adult can't control the situation at the moment. For example, if the parent is lashing out because his/her child has thrown store merchandise onto the floor, ask if you can help to pick it up.
  • Get a description of the parent and child
  • Write down the license number of the car
  • Call your local family services office
    Contact them with the physical descriptions and license number that you have written down. Alert them to the situation and let them know that somebody needs to look into it.
Statistics about Child Abuse and Unrelated Adults:
  • Children who live with a single parent, who has a live-in partner, are 20 times more likely to be victims of child sex abuse than children living with both biological parents, according to Darkness to Light.
    • A report by the Post-Gazette.com states that one-tenth to one-third of child fatalities were caused by unrelated adults in the home; Unrelated adults in the home beat very young children to death more than 100 times per capita than genetic parents; and the risk of a child dying at the hands of adults is eight times higher if the adult is unrelated.
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