Collage of pictures



About Child Abuse and Child Neglect

este programa espanol

Reporting suspected abuse and neglect
Recognizing child abuse
Recognizing child neglect
For parents who need help...
If you are reported for child abuse or neglect

Reporting Suspected Abuse and Neglect

While most of us want nothing but the best for our children, child abuse and neglect are too common. While the words abuse and neglect are often used interchangeably, each type of maltreatment is distinct. Abuse is the intentional maltreatment of a child and can be physical, sexual, or emotional in nature. Neglect, on the other hand, is the failure to give children the necessary care they need. The emotional scars of both types of maltreatment are often deep and no child deserves to be maltreated.

If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, or if you think a child may have died from being mistreated, you must report what you know to the county Department of Social Services. This is the law( N.C.G.S. § 7B-301). Do not be afraid to report. As long as you are acting in good faith, you cannot be held liable ( N.C.G.S. §7B-309).

A listing of all 100 county Departments of Social Services can be found here.

back to the top

Recognizing Child Abuse

The following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect. It is important to note that any one of these things could mean anything or nothing. For example, there are many reasons a child may not want to go home on any particular day, or a child may be overly compliant when they are trying to please a favorite teacher. However, when you have a cluster of two or more of these, this should raise a red flag to at least talk to the child and/or parent, and at most call your local Child Protective Services. It is also important to remember that issues related solely to poverty are not considered child maltreatment issues.

The Child:

The Parent or Other Adult Caregiver:

back to the top

Recognizing Child Neglect

The Child:

The Parent or Other Adult Caregiver:

back to the top

For Parents who need help . . .

Asking for help is a sign of strength. Call Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina at 1-800-CHILDREN. They can put you in touch with someone who can offer support and help. Or contact your:

back to the top

Twelve Alternatives to Lashing out at Your Child

The next time everyday pressures build up to the point where you feel like lashing out -- STOP! Try any of these simple alternatives. You'll feel better... and so will your child.

back to the top

If You are Reported for Child Abuse or Neglect

The county Department of Social Services has a team of people who assess reports of suspected child abuse and neglect.

If someone has made a report because they are concerned about the safety of your child, you may be visited by a social worker from the county Department of Social Services. These professionals are required by law to assess any report of child maltreatment. That means they need to talk to your child, talk to you, and perhaps to teachers, neighbors or others who are close to the family. The worker has the right to talk to your child without your permission. However, the worker will only exercise this right if the worker deems that the child's safety warrants it.

Remember that the worker is only trying to make sure your child is safe. Honesty and cooperation will make the process easier. Often the parent is offered needed support.

Most of the time children reported to CPS are not removed from their homes. Children are placed away from their parents only when it becomes necessary to protect them from harm.

You can get more information about procedures and your rights from North Carolina General Statutes Chapter 7B. For additional information please refer to Janet Mason's Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect in North Carolina (second edition, 2003)

back to the top



We strive to keep this information as accurate as possible. If information on this page needs to be updated, please Email us.


Page Modified 10/15/2012

Link to State of NC Home Page  
Questions about our services or website? Email us | Disclaimer