Reporting Child Protective Services

Reporting Child Abuse or Neglect

If you suspect child abuse or neglect, report it!
Every adult in North Carolina has a legal obligation to report suspected child abuse or neglect.  Child abuse rarely stops without intervention.  By reporting suspected child abuse or neglect, you can help a family get the help they need.  Abused children may carry the trauma of abuse throughout their lives unless treatment, assistance and support are provided.  Our children are counting on you to act! 

How to report child abuse or neglect:
In North Carolina, protective services are provided by the local department of social services for children from birth to age 18 who are suspected of being abused or neglected by a parent or caretaker.  If you make a report, you are immune from criminal or legal liability if the report is made in good faith.  You may make a report anonymously, but you are encouraged to provide your name and contact information in case additional information is needed later.

To report suspected abuse/neglect, you do not need to have proof, but you do need to have reasonable grounds for suspicion.  You do not need permission from the child’s caregivers.

You may make a report of suspected child abuse/neglect during regular business hours by calling 336-593-2861 or you may call 911, or (336) 593-8139 after hours & on holidays
A social worker will listen to your concerns and document all information given.  You may also make a report by mail or in person.  The Child Protection Unit is located at the Social Services office at 1010 Main Street, Danbury, NC. 

The mailing address is PO Box 30, Danbury, NC  27016.

What Information do you need to make a report?

  • Name, address and age of the child(ren)
  • Name and address of the child’s parent, guardian or caretaker
  • The child’s condition, including the history, nature and extent of the injury of maltreatment
  • Information known about the family that could affect the safety of the child, and perhaps the safety of a social worker.

What are the signs of abuse or neglect?

Physical and Behavioral Indicators of Physical Abuse:

  • Unexplained bruises of various color, size, and in various locations
  • Bruises in areas not normally subjected to bruising, such as on the face, non-bony areas of the arms, legs and/or torso
  • Welts, human bites, bald spots
  • Unexplained burns, especially cigarette burns or scald burns
  • Unexplained fractures, injuries or abrasions
  • Child is nervous, hyperactive, aggressive, and exhibits disruptive and destructive behaviors
  • Child is unusually wary of physical contact
  • Child is unduly frightened of parent or caretaker
  • Child expresses little or no emotion when hurt
  • Child is unusually shy, withdrawn, or passive
  • Child’s clothing consistently inappropriate for weather

Physical and Behavioral Indicators of Sexual Abuse:

  • Irritation around the genitals or rectum, or an abnormal discharge
  • Unexplained, recurring urinary tract infections or yeast infections
  • Increased, obsessive masturbation
  • Enuresis and encopresis (wetting and soiling)
  • Play activities which have sexual activity that is not appropriate for the child’s age
  • Engages in on-going sexual activity that is not appropriate for the child’s age
  • Child has detailed and sophisticated understanding of sexual behaviors
  • Presence of venereal disease
  • Child exhibits delinquent or aggressive behavior or excessive temper tantrums
  • Child shows signs of depression
  • Compulsive stealing, lying, and destructive behaviors
  • Child displays self-injurious behaviors like substance abuse, self mutilation, attempts suicide, prostitution and running away

Physical and Behavioral Indicators of Child Neglect:

  • Abandonment by parent or caretaker
  • Unattended medical needs
  • Consistent lack of or inadequate supervision
  • Consistent hunger, inappropriate dress, poor hygiene
  • Exposure to injurious environment such as domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness
  • Child has poor social skills
  • Child appears pale, listless
  • Child begs or steals food
  • Frequent school absences
  • Child regularly displays fatigue
  • Child exhibits self destructive behavior
  • Child has injuries or fears stemming from home environment
  • Child frequently displays extreme attention-seeking behavior

What contributes to abuse or neglect?

While maltreating parents/caretakers share many characteristics with members of the general population, there are patterns of behaviors and family dynamics which are predictors and indicators of child abuse and neglect.  The following is a list of characteristics which are commonly present in maltreating families:

  • Tend to be socially isolated and have no social support system
  • Parents have low self-esteem
  • Parents have distorted ideas regarding the child
  • Have little knowledge about child development
  • Have unrealistic expectations of the child
  • Lack means of controlling child’s behavior through alternative methods to corporal discipline
  • Inability to empathize (view the world from the point of the child)
  • Have difficulty in building trust relationships
  • Mental Health issues
  • Tend to be immature and dependent
  • Use of alcohol and/or substances
  • Domestic violence
  • Inadequate family income and/or sporadic employment history
  • Inadequate housing
  • Unstable living conditions (transient or frequent moves)
  • Limited intellectual functioning
  • Family history of child neglect or abuse
  • Poor household management
  • Poor understanding of role of parent
  • Poor communication within the family
  • Non-responsive to emotional needs of the child
  • Child who is developmentally delayed and/or has behavior problems

What happens after a report is made?
The allegations in the report will be screened to see if they meet the legal definition of abuse, neglect or dependency.  The department has jurisdiction only when the alleged mistreatment falls within legal definitions and was committed or allowed by the parent or caretaker.  If the allegations and alleged perpetrator meet these criteria, an investigation is begun.  If a report is not accepted for investigation/assessment, the person reporting the abuse has a right to challenge this decision through an agency review process.

When does the investigation begin?
A social worker begins an investigation within 24 hours when abuse is alleged.  Investigations involving allegations of neglect posing no immediate risk to the child will begin with 72 hours.  The target date for completion of an investigation is 30-45 days after the report is received.

If the investigation shows that abuse/neglect has occurred, and if the family cannot correct the problem, they will continue to receive services from Child Protective Services.