- Call the state-wide Hotline at 1-866-363-4276
- IF THIS IS AN EMERGENCY CALL 911
Get Help Now!
Helplines are staffed with trained operators to deal with your questions about suspected child abuse.
- CHILDHELP - USA NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE HOTLINE: 1-800-4-A-CHILD
- TOLL FREE HOTLINE: 1-866-END-HARM
STILL NOT SURE WHERE TO TURN?
Child Advocacy Centers (CAC's) provide coordinated legal, medical, and social services to child victims of abuse. If you are unsure about making an official report or you are/know a (youth) victim in need of support, contact a child advocacy center in your area.
To find a Washington CAC near you visit our Find a Center page
To find a CAC in another state, visit the National Children’s Alliance at: https://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/
Not in Washington State:
Information to Include
►Please take a moment before calling to put together as much of the following information as possible:
- Name, age and address of the child.
- Name, address, and other identifying information about the parent or other caregiver.
- The type of abuse you witnessed including information on the extent of the abuse and who caused the abuse.
- Information about any previous incidents or concerns.
- Any other information that might be helpful.
You do not need to know all of this information to make a report, but the more specific you can be, the easier it will be for CPS to determine if an investigation is needed.
Even if CPS does not investigate, the information will be kept on file and may aid in future investigations.
Even if you are not a mandated reporter under state law, you have an obligation to protect children in your community. You cannot be held liable for making a report in good faith. You do not have to know for sure that a child is being abused or neglected to make a report. A trained investigator will make that determination.
Washington State Definition on Child Abuse/ Types of Abuse
How Washington State Law Defines Child Abuse
Child Abuse: In Washington State, RCW 26.44.020 (1) defines abuse and neglect as injury, assault, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child under circumstances which indicate that the child's health, welfare, and/or safety is harmed. *https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=26.44.020
- EMOTIONAL ABUSE: A child who has been injured mentally is one who sustains damage to intellectual, psychological, emotional or psychological functioning which is clearly attributable to the non-accidental acts or omissions of the parent or guardian. Examples of a parental or caretaker abusive behaviors include a pattern of rejecting, isolating, ignoring, corrupting or terrorizing a child.
- SEXUAL ABUSE: There is a wide range of offenses defined in the Washington state criminal code involving children that constitute sexual abuse such as: any form of inappropriate sexual behavior with a child; this could include: fondling, touching, indecent liberties, communication with a minor for immoral purposes, sexual exploitation of a minor, sex trafficking of children for sexual purposes, child molestation, sexual misconduct with a minor, rape of a child and intended rape.
- SEXUAL EXPLOITATION
Sexual exploitation is one element of the definition of sexual abuse. This includes allowing the child to engage in sexual acts, prostitution, sex trafficking or the production of child pornography.
- NEGLECT: Negligent treatment or maltreatment (a dangerous act) is that which constitutes a clear and present danger to the child’s health, welfare, and safety such as:
- Failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, emotional nurturing or health care.
- Failure to provide adequate supervision in relation to a child’s level of development.
- An act of abandonment.
- An act of exploitation.
- An act of reckless endangerment.
- Other dangerous acts such as hitting, kicking, throwing, choking a child or
shaking an infant.
Common Indicators of Abuse
The Following are Common Indicators of Abuse
The presence of an indicator does not prove child abuse is occurring; however, if you repeatedly or in combination notice these signs please take a closer look, consider the possibility of child abuse and report it.
- has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
- is frightened of the parent/guardian and protests or cries when it’s time to go home
- shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
- has not received help for physical, medical or learning problems brought to the parents' attention
- shrinks at the approach of adults
- reports an injury by a parent or adult caregiver
- lacks appropriate adult supervision
- is reluctant to be around a particular person
- Discloses maltreatment
- offers conflicting, unconvincing, or non-explanations for child’s injury
- denies the existence of - or blames the child for- the child's problems in school or home
- describes or views the child as bad, worthless, burdensome or with a negative view
- uses harsh physical discipline with the child
- demands a level of physical or academic performance that child cannot achieve
- shows little concern for the child
- asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
- looks to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs
*The Parent and The Child
- Rarely touch or look at one another
- Consider their relationship entirely negative
- State consistently they do not like each other
*Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2019). "What is child abuse and neglect? Recognizing the signs and symptoms." Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
**Information taken from the Washington State Attorney General Website at: https://www.atg.wa.gov/child-abuse-neglect The Child Welfare Information Gateway at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/responding/reporting/how/ and the Washington State Department of Children Youth and Families website at: https://www.dcyf.wa.gov/safety/report-abuse.
Please visit each website for more helpful information and resources on abuse.
Concerns about Reporting Suspected Abuse
Immunity from civil or criminal liability—Confidential communications not violated—Actions against state not affected—False report, penalty
The law seeks to prevent malicious reporting which can occur as a result of family or neighborhood disputes.
Washington State: Department of Children, Youth & Families - DCYF
The Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF - Formally DSHS)
Youth Needing to Talk
Youth Homeless, Runaway & Shelter Services
Washington State: 211 - Information and Resources Network
National Child Abuse Helplines
- Abused or Neglected Children: Child Help - National Abuse Hotline.
- Phone: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
- Child Sexual Abuse: Stop It Now!
- Phone: 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368)
- Rape & Sexual Abuse: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
- Phone: 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)
Missing, Abducted & Runaway Children
- Missing or Abducted Children: National Center for Missing or Exploited Children.
- Phone: 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)
- Runaway & Homeless Youth: National Runaway Safeline.
- Phone: 1-800-RUNAWAY (1-800-786-2929) or text 66008
Reporting Suspected Child Exploitation on the Internet
Reporting suspected child exploitation on the internet
- The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP) is a non-profit organization dedicated to online child protection. ASACP battles child exploitation through its C.E. Reporting Tipline. Please view their FAQs page to find out more information on: What sites you should report, what content is and isnt child exploitation, how you can help their mission, resources and information on internet child exploitation.
The Trevor Project:
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.
Help is available 24/7
Phone: 1 866-488-7386
Instant Messaging with a counselor: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now/#services
Text: text the word - START to # 678678