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Make A Call, Protect A Child

Armen Hareyan's picture

Asking the public to report any suspected cases of child abuse or neglect is paying off.

Calls to the hotline alleging child abuse or neglect are up by 52.4 percent over the past five years, going from 16,246 calls in calendar year 2003 to 24,762 calls in 2007, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

"During April, we remind people that we all have the power to protect a child," said Todd Landry, director of the Division of Children and Family Services in DHHS. "I appreciate the public's willingness to take action throughout the year and call the hotline or law enforcement to help ensure children in their community are safe."

Possible warning signs that a child might be abused or neglected include:

* Not having enough food or clothing or a safe place to live;

* Parents not following a doctor's orders;

* Having unexplained or repeated injuries like bruises, welts, burns or cuts;

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* Leaving a child under age six in a car unattended; or

* Not providing the supervision needed to keep a child safe.

Calls to the hotline at 1-800-652-1999 are kept confidential, Landry said. Any emergency situation should be reported immediately to local law enforcement.

There were 2,842 substantiated instances of child abuse and neglect in calendar year 2007.

Any given case may and often does involve multiple types of maltreatment. The most frequently substantiated allegations in 2007 were:

* 80.8% (2,296) involving physical neglect;

* 19.6% (557) involving physical abuse; and

* 10.1% (288) involving sexual abuse.