Contrary to popular belief, child abuse is not a rare occurrence nor is it confined to any one social class, ethnic group or religious background. It can occur in any family and it happens more than we would like to think it does.
If your child has been the victim of abuse, you may be feeling a broad range of emotions. Several questions may also remain unanswered. The effects on the family can be very traumatic.
Your immediate concerns however, must be for the child/children. The future well being of the child depends upon the response of the parents. After disclosure, your family may be in a crisis situation. You will no doubt by this time, be feeling exhausted and confused or at your wits' end. You should feel free to call the Victims Assistance Program with any questions or concerns.
If someone is being hurt or is in danger right now, call 911 immediately.
Report child abuse to the Department of Human Services (DHS) or a local police department, county sheriff, county juvenile department, or Oregon State Police.
- Child Abuse Hotline for Deschutes County: (541) 693-2700
Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
After Hours: Call 911
Click here for Questions and Answers about reporting abuse and neglect.
What is child abuse and neglect?
Child abuse is more than bruises or broken bones. While physical abuse is shocking due to the physical and emotional scars it leaves, not all child abuse is obvious. Ignoring children's needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, or making a child feel worthless are also forms of child abuse. Regardless of the type of child abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.
Types of Child Abuse
Child neglect – a very common type of child abuse – is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it is adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or supervision. Child neglect is not always easy to spot. Sometimes, a parent might become physically or mentally unable to care for a child, such as with serious injury, untreated depression, or anxiety. Other times, alcohol or drug abuse may seriously impair judgment and the ability to keep a child safe.
Older children might not show outward signs of neglect, becoming used to presenting a competent face to the outside world, and even taking on the role of the parent. But at the end of the day, neglected children are not getting their physical and emotional needs met.
Physical Child Abuse
Physical abuse involves physical harm or injury to the child. It may be the result of a deliberate attempt to hurt the child, but not always. It can also result from severe disciplining, such as using a belt on a child, or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age or physical condition.
Many physically abusive parents and caregivers insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline – ways to make children learn to behave. But there is a big difference between using physical punishment to discipline and physical abuse. The point of disciplining children is to teach them right from wrong, not to make them live in fear.
Child Sexual Abuse: A Hidden Type of Abuse
Child sexual abuse is an especially complicated form of abuse because of its layers of guilt and shame. It’s important to recognize that sexual abuse doesn’t always involve body contact. Exposing a child to sexual situations or material is sexually abusive, whether or not touching is involved.
While news stories of sexual predators are scary, what is even more frightening is that sexual abuse usually occurs at the hands of someone the child knows and should be able to trust – many times the abuser is a relative. And contrary to what many believe, it’s not just girls who are at risk. Boys and girls both suffer from sexual abuse. In fact, sexual abuse of boys may be underreported due to shame and stigma.
Recognizing Abusive Behavior in Yourself
How do you know when you've crossed the line? Possible indications or examples:
- You can't stop the anger.
- You feel emotionally disconnected from your child.
- Meeting the daily needs of your child seems impossible.
- Other people have expressed concern.
If you need professional help…
Do you feel angry and don’t know where to turn? In the U.S., call 1-8004-A-CHILD to find support and resources in your community that can help you break the cycle of abuse.
Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect
If you suspect a child is being abused, it’s critical to get the help he or she needs. Reporting child abuse seems so official. Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives.
Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse.
- I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family: The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.
- What if I break up someone’s home? The priority in child protective services is keeping children at home – unless the child is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.
- They will know it was me who called: Reporting can be anonymous. In most cases, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse.
- It won’t make a difference what I have to say: If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
As difficult as reporting child abuse or neglect can be, it's important for you to stand up for a child in need. Learn how to communicate effectively in different situations. Read: Child Abuse Reporting Tips.
Victims & Witnesses
- Victims' Assistance Program
- Crime Victim’s Rights
- Criminal Justice System
- DUII Victim Impact Panel
- Protective Orders
- Child Abuse
- Domestic Violence
- Elder & Vulnerable Adults Abuse
- Sexual Assault
- Identity Theft
- Crime Victim's Compensation
- Lookup Court Dates
- Victim’s Assistance Survey
- Oregon Department of Human Services
- Department of Justice
- KIDS Center
- Department of Human Resources
- CASA of Central Oregon
- Q & A on Reporting Child Abuse
- Child Abuse Reporting Tips
Location: 1164 NW Bond St., Bend, Oregon 97701
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:00 to 5:00
Phone: (541) 388-6525
Fax: (541) 330-4698