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For Parents & Caregivers

As a parent or caregiver, you have the primary role in protecting and caring for your children. Supportive caregiving is one of the biggest predictors of resilience among children who have experienced trauma.

What to Look for

No one sign or symptom is the deciding factor in whether or not a child has been abused. Often, the first indicator is when a child discloses abuse. However, some children who are abused may have changes in their behaviors and/or emotions. For example, a normally talkative child may become withdrawn or a typically reserved child who has new fears that emerge. If you notice changes in your child, ask them how they are doing—and listen. Let them know they can always come to you, and if you need advice on how to handle these sensitive conversations, we are here to help.

Studies show that children who have been abused are at higher risk for emotional problems such as depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts as well as health problems including high blood pressure, asthma, and obesity. Addressing trauma symptoms related to the abuse during childhood can make the difference in putting the abuse behind them.

Preventing Abuse

Prevention efforts do keep abuse from happening to many children, and you'll need the right tools to keep children safe.

How We Can Help You

What Happens when you come to Dee Norton?

At the first moment of concern, you have a safe, child-friendly place to turn to for help. You can receive information and advice by calling us at (843) 723-3600.

  • After talking to one of our intake coordinators, an appointment will be scheduled where appropriate.
  • To establish a clear record of the concern, a forensic interview may take place with your child by one of our specially-trained professionals.
  • A caregiver and family assessment may be offered to give you a safe space to share your experience and to provide support to help you understand and learn how to respond to your child’s reactions.
  • Your child may receive a medical examination at the Center by a pediatric specialist from MUSC that helps assure your child—and you—that their body is okay.
  • If further assessment is recommended, you and your child will meet with a therapist at the Center to see what treatment, if any, is needed.
  • If therapy is needed, children and parents will meet with therapists one-on-one to discuss a treatment plan.
  • Tailored treatments have been proven to reduce a child’s symptoms and typically are carried out in 10 to 25 sessions.
  • Case coordination is provided through the multidisciplinary team (MDT), which meets weekly to review cases and make recommendations. The MDT’s goal is to work together in the best interest of the child and the family.

Types of Abuse

  • Sexual Abuse

    Child sexual abuse is any interaction between a child and an adult (or older child) where the child is used for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or an observer. Sexual abuse can include both touching and non-touching behaviors. Non-touching behaviors can include voyeurism (trying to look at a child’s naked body), exhibitionism, or exposing the child to pornography. Children of all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, and economic backgrounds may experience sexual abuse.

  • Physical Abuse

    Physical abuse is one of the most common forms of child maltreatment. While legal definitions vary, physical abuse, broadly, occurs when a parent or caregiver commits an act that results in physical injury to a child or teen. Sometimes it happens even when parents did not intend to cause an injury. Physical abuse may include hitting, punching, shaking, kicking, beating, burning, or otherwise harming a child.

  • Emotional Abuse

    Emotional abuse includes acts or the failures to act by parents or caretakers that cause, or could cause, serious behavioral, intellectual, or, emotional disorders.

  • Domestic Violence

    Exposure to interpersonal violence between adults can be harmful to children. It can include witnessing or simply being aware of violence between adults. While domestic violence often occurs as a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior, an initial incident may also be cause for concern. Tactics used in domestic violence can be physical, sexual, financial, verbal, or emotional against the partner. Exposure to substance abuse by parents and other caregivers can also have negative effects on the health, safety, and well-being of children.

  • Neglect

    Although not discussed as often as other forms, neglect is the most common form of child abuse. Whereas other forms of abuse occur when something negative happens to a child, neglect is when a child’s basic needs for food, housing, health care, and warm clothing are not met.

  • Bullying

    Bullying is a form of peer victimization when one person deliberately and repeatedly intimidates or harms another. Bullying can severely affect a child’s or teen's self-image, social interactions, and school performance, and can lead to mental health problems.

How to Report

If you live in South Carolina and suspect abuse by a family member who has responsibility for taking care of the child, contact the South Carolina Child Abuse Hotline at (888) CARE4US® / (888) 227-3487.

If you live in the Lowcountry area and need assistance with this process, call us at (843) 723-3600.

If you live outside of South Carolina and need help, call National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 4ACHILD® / (800) 422-4453.

If you suspect abuse by someone who does not have caregiver responsible for the child, contact your local law enforcement jurisdiction:

Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office
(843) 719-4465 (Moncks Corner)
(843) 723-3800 ext. 4465 (Charleston)
(843) 567-3136 ext. 4465 (St. Stephen)

Charleston Police Department (843) 577-7434

Charleston Consolidated Dispatch (843)-743-7200

Charleston County Sheriff’s Office (843) 202-1700

Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office
(843) 202-1700 (before 5pm) | (843) 873-5111 (after 5pm)

Folly Beach Police Department (843) 588-2433

Goose Creek Police Department (843) 572-4300

Hanahan Police Department (843) 873-5111

Isle of Palms Police Department (843) 886-6522

Moncks Corner Police Department (843) 719-7935

Mount Pleasant Police Department (843) 884-4176

North Charleston Police Department (843)-740-2800

Sullivan’s Island Police Department (843) 871-2463

Summerville Police Department (843) 875-1650

Explore Our Services

Child abuse does not have to define who a child will become. At the Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center, children and families have a safe, child-friendly place they can come to where there is concern about abuse.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding child abuse helps you be in a better position to both prevent abuse and know how to respond if abuse occurs. Here are answers to frequently asked questions about abuse.

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