How to Report Child Abuse

Washington State has a toll-free line that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days-a-week, 365 days-a-year. Call 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276) to be connected to the appropriate local office where you can report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Dial 911 if a child is actively in danger.

Signs of Abuse

Abuse and trauma take many forms, but the impact on children is often similar. Learning more about the signs is helpful, but not all children exhibit signs. If you suspect abuse, report it.

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse, and can encompass one or more areas of need. Neglect is when a child’s basic needs, such as food, health care, clothing, etc are not met, such that they pose a threat to the child’s health, welfare, or safety.

Common indications of neglect include:

  • Frequent School Absences
  • Begging/Stealing Money or Food
  • Lacking Dental Care, Medical Care, or Glasses (if needed)
  • Is consistently dirty, in dirty clothes, or has severe body oder
  • Insufficient or inappropriate clothing for the weather (like not having a warm coat in winter)
  • States that there is nobody present at home to provide care
  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs 

Physical abuse is when a caregiver inflicts physical injury upon a child, even when unintentional. Physical abuse typically results in physical marks, but not always. Sometimes it results in internal injuries.  Physical abuse can include things like:

  • Hitting/Punching
  • Biting
  • Burning
  • Shaking
  • Kicking

It does not matter whether an object (like a spoon, shoe, etc) or a person’s hand was used. If there are injuries, it falls under physical abuse.

This is different from physical discipline, which is not considered harmful and does not result in injuries. However, if physical discipline is used and an injury occurs, it does fall under physical abuse, not discipline.

Common indicators of Physical Abuse include:

  • Unexplained (or explanations that don’t seem to fit) burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes.
  • Fading bruises or marks, after an absence from school
  • Shrinks at the approach of adults
  • Frightened of the parents, or protests or cries when it’s time to go home

Child sexual abuse, including exploitation, is any kind of sexual act toward a child by an adult, or older, more powerful child.

When talking to children, be cognizant of the words they use and ask them to explain, even if you think you know what they’re referring to. Some perpetrators teach children to call their sexual parts other names, knowing that most  adults will overlook or excuse a child saying, someone touched their “tummy.”

Consider the possibility of sexual abuse having occurred when:

  • A child has difficulty walking or sitting
  • Suddenly refuses to change for gym, or participate in physical activities
  • Reports nightmares or bedwetting
  • Sudden changes in appetite
  • Has bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Becomes pregnant or contracts a sexually transmitted disease
  • Runs Away

Emotional Abuse can be difficult to identify, but is no less detrimental to a child’s health and welfare. It includes the acts (or failure to act) of caregivers that have caused or could cause serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional or mental disorders.

Common indicators of emotional abuse include:

  • Extremes in behavior, overly compliant or demanding, extreme passivity or aggression
  • Has attempted suicide
  • A lack of attachment to the parent
  • Is either inappropriately adult or infantile
  • Is delayed in physical or emotional development (without an underlying medical cause)

Exposure to domestic violence has been shown to have a negative impact on children. It includes things such as witnessing or being aware of violence happening between the adults in the home. Exposure to substance abuse, such as drugs or alcohol, can also have negative effects on the health, safety, and well-being of children and is common in neglect cases.

The information provided in the list above are a guideline. Not all children exhibit the same symptoms, or symptoms at all. If you’re concerned that a child may be abused and/or neglected, report it.

Local Partners

Ways You Can Help

In addition to reporting suspected abuse/neglect, there are other ways you can help. You can volunteer your time or make a donation to an advocacy program. Together, we can work to help prevent further child abuse.

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Coloca el cursor sobre un título para obtener más información sobre ese rol.

Aplicación de la Ley

Aplicación de la Ley

Responde a los informes de abuso infantil, investiga las acusaciones junto con el Departamento de Niños, Jóvenes y Familias y realiza arrestos cuando corresponde. 1 of 9

Departamento de Niños

Responde a los informes de abuso infantil, investiga las acusaciones junto con las fuerzas del orden público y trabaja para garantizar que los niños estén seguros. 2 of 9
Fiscal Adjunto

Fiscal Adjunto

Revisa los casos con miembros del equipo multidisciplinario para guiar las investigaciones de abuso infantil, determina si el enjuiciamiento en un tribunal penal es apropiado y prepara los casos para el juicio. 3 of 9
Defensor de Víctimas/Testigos

Defensor de Víctimas / Testigos

Brinda a los niños y sus familias / cuidadores apoyo y educación sobre la investigación y el proceso de justicia penal, y el vínculo con los recursos comunitarios. 4 of 9
Proveedor Médico

Proveedor Médico

Proporciona exámenes físicos, no invasivos para niños con alegaciones o inquietudes de abuso sexual o físico. 5 of 9
Consultor de Salud Mental

Consultor de Salud Mental

Brinda tratamiento de salud mental basado en evidencia y enfocado en el trauma de los niños que han sufrido abuso u otros eventos traumatizantes. 6 of 9
Entrevistador Forense

Forensic Interviewer

Entrevista a los niños que pueden haber sufrido abuso, siguiendo las pautas de entrevista infantil del estado de Washington basadas en el protocolo de entrevista de investigación del Instituto Nacional de Salud Infantil y Desarrollo Humano (NICHD). 7 of 9
Coordinador del MDT

Coordinador del Equipo Multidisciplinario

Facilita un enfoque coordinado en la investigación, el tratamiento y el enjuiciamiento de casos de abuso infantil mediante la utilización de un equipo multidisciplinario de profesionales involucrados en los servicios de protección infantil, aplicación de la ley, procesamiento, defensa de víctimas, servicios médicos y de salud mental. 8 of 9
Niña y Familia

Niña y familia

Nuestra Misión: A través de un equipo multidisciplinario (MDT) que coordina la investigación, el enjuiciamiento y la respuesta terapéutica, el Centro de Defensa de los Niños del Condado de Yakima se esfuerza por reducir el trauma emocional de los niños víctimas y testigos. 9 of 9

Hover over a title to learn more about that role

Law Enforcement

Law Enforcement

Responds to reports of child abuse, investigates the allegations in conjunction with DCYF, and makes arrests when appropriate.

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Responds to reports of child abuse, investigates the allegations in conjunction with law enforcement, and works to ensure children are safe.

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Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney

Reviews cases with members of Multidisciplinary Team to guide the child abuse investigations, determines whether prosecution in criminal court is appropriate, and prepares cases for trial.

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Victim/Witness Advocate

Victim/Witness Advocate

Provides Children and their families/caregivers with support and education about the investigation and criminal justice process, and linkage to community resources.

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Medical Provider

Medical Provider

Provides non-invasive physical exams for children with allegations or concerns of sexual or physical abuse. 5 of 9
Mental Health Consultant

Mental Health Consultant

Provides evidence-based and trauma focused mental health treatment to children who have experienced abuse or other traumatizing events.

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Forensic Interviewer

Forensic Interviewer

Interviews children who may have experienced abuse, following Washington State Child Interview Guidelines based on the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) investigative interview protocol.

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MDT Coordinator

MDT Coordinator

Facilitates a coordinated approach in the investigation, treatment, and prosecution of child abuse cases by utilizing a multidisciplinary team of professionals involved in child protective services, law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocacy, medical and mental health services. 8 of 9
Child & Famiy

Child & Family

Our Mission: Through a multidisciplinary team (MDT) coordination of investigation, prosecution, and therapeutic response, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Yakima County strives to reduce the emotional trauma of child victims and witnesses. 9 of 9

Report Abuse

Anyone who is concerned for a child can report abuse.
If you suspect a child is in imminent harm call 9-1-1 for an immediate police response.
Contact Child Protective Services at 1-866-ENDHARM (1-866-363-4276).

Questions that will be asked when you call
1. The name, address and age of the child.
2. The name and address of the child’s parent, guardian or other persons having custody of the child.
3. The nature and extent of the abuse or neglect.
4. Any evidence of previous incidences.
5. Any other information which may be helpful in establishing the cause of the child’s abuse or neglect and the identity of the perpetrator.

You do not need to have all of the above information when you call to make a report, but the more accurate information you can provide, the better equipped the offices will be to assess the child’s risk.

What will happen next?
Every case is different. Some cases may trigger an immediate law enforcement response and others will become cases handled by Child Protective Services. In many cases, a report will initiate a coordinated response from the CAC’s team of professionals.