Guidelines on How to Report Concerns of Abuse
March 20, 2023
At Dee Norton, we know that no one sign or symptom is the deciding factor in whether a child has been abused. Often, the first indicator is when a child discloses abuse. Knowing how to report and who to report to is one of the best tools for the child’s safety.
When child abuse or neglect is suspected, South Carolina law requires certain professionals to report their concerns. These professionals are called mandated reporters. Examples of mandated reporters include healthcare workers, school personnel, clergy, mental health professionals, funeral home employees, child-care providers, law enforcement, computer technicians and film processors. While these professions are legally obligated to report suspicions, Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center encourages all the public to speak up if they see something or hear something that concerns them.
“We encourage you that if you see something say something. It can be scary, you may feel like you are overstepping, but you are not,” says Rachael Garrett, Director of Community Programs at Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center. “If you’re a neighbor and you see a dog being maltreated—we as a society, see calling animal control as a positive intervention. We don’t see that with children as much with reporting abuse or concerns but we should. Know that your intentions are good.”
You do not have to know all the answers or have all the information. If you have a concern, or if a child has told you someone has made them uncomfortable or hurt them, express support and tell them you will act to keep them safe. Then make a report to professionals or call us for help.
If you suspect abuse has happened by the legal guardian, call the Department of Social Services (DSS) at (888) 337-3487.
- Information you will need:
- The address of where the child lives (for jurisdiction)
- The name of child
- Name of alleged offender or identifiers such as: mom, grandpa, etc. is acceptable
If the alleged offender is not the legal guardian, call the local law enforcement of where the incident allegedly took place. This includes extended family members, friends of the parents, among others.
If you are not a mandated reporter, know that you can call DSS anonymously to make a report.
If you are a mandated reporter, you have a legal obligation to make a report to either DSS or law enforcement but if you don’t know all the above information or have an incomplete report, we are here to help and guide you through the process. However, we are not an investigative agency. It does not fulfil a mandate reporter’s responsibility to call or refer to us.
Contact 911 immediately if the situation is a life-threatening emergency.