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jamms's avatar

Who should I go if I fear a child is being hurt by their parent?

Asked by jamms (609points) February 29th, 2008 from iPhone

My girlfriends daughter came back from her dads house today with a large bruise on the face. This is the second unexplained mark on her. She won’t say what happened ‘she just wakes up this way.’ We are in a custody battle and its very hard on her. I don’t want to add stress to her even more than it already is. If I call child welfare they will not find any results because she won’t talk about it. She is always withdrawn and scared to talk around her dad. I need to do something. We go to court in 12 days.

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7 Answers

bulbatron9's avatar

Dude, you’ve got to call! You will regret it if you don’t. They will probably be able to figure out what is going on.

Randy's avatar

Ya know how smokey bear says “only you can prevent forest fires”.....well, only you can prevent child abuse.

sarahsugs's avatar

Call your local Child Protective Services department right away. Even if a child won’t talk about what happened they can still do an investigation, especially if there are marks on the child’s body. You should make the report as soon as possible, i.e., before the bruises go away, so that if and when somebody does come out to check up on it they will see the evidence. Marks on a child’s body can often make the difference between an investigation happening and not happening, especially in urban areas (I’m not sure where you are located) where the welfare department is overloaded with reports.

Reporting will send a message to this child that you want to keep her safe. It will not add stress for her to know that someone is advocating for her. On the contrary, if she is being abused, she is under way more stress (to put it mildly) than any investigation could cause.

I would also add (though maybe it’s obvious) that you should do everything you can to prevent her going back to her dad’s house.

jamms's avatar

having her not go back there is the goal. At this point keeping her would be kidnapping. Please keep the feedback coming. I plan to show this to her mother in the morning. Thanks all.

Randy's avatar

@sarahsugs I like what you said at the end. I compleatly agree with that. Don’t let the child go back to her dads!!! Do what you have to for the childs sake.

sarahsugs's avatar

You said you go to court in 12 days. Though I know nothing about custody battles it seems to me that you should also discuss these incidents, and the fact that you are making a child abuse report, with your lawyer. If this man is abusing his daughter he should definitely not be given custody!!!! The lawyer may also be able to advise you on next steps.

I also forgot to mention above that when you call Child Protective Services you do not automatically have to file a report. You can talk with them first about what you have seen and heard and they can advise you on whether a report is necessary. This can all be done anonymously if you wish. However, based on the little you have said above I would not hesitate to report it. Your actions right now could be life-changing for this girl. Abuse robs the abused of a voice, especially when the abused is a child, as is evident in her silence on the matter. You (and/or her mother) can speak out for her until she is in a position to gain her own voice back again.

I am a teacher of young children and so this issue is very emotional and personal for me, having seen the effects of abuse on children I care deeply about. Whenever I am not sure whether to take action, I ask myself how I would feel years later if I found out that abuse was taking place and I had not done anything to try to stop it. The worst (well, best!) that can happen is that you are wrong.

ironhiway's avatar

If you don’t report it, and someone else does, they may take the child into custody until they can determine which parent or who is the abusing party. The fact that the child is not talking about it is a sign of abuse (fear).
If the child is being abused delaying help could allow time for the abuser to really do some damage physically or psychologically. Please don’t wait.

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