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How to Protect from Abuse

Help children get through what they have gone through

You have the power to make a difference by protecting a child today.

If intuition tells you something is wrong, take action. It takes courage, but you cannot stay silent. Make the call to prevent further harm. Inspire others to do the same.

You do not have to know all the answers or have all of 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.

And if abuse or trauma happens, we are here to help.

Types of 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 physical abuse 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 in a child’s home can be harmful to children. It can include witnessing or being aware of the violence happening between adults in the home. While domestic violence often occurs as a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior, an initial incident of abuse may also be a cause for concern. Tactics used in domestic violence can be physical, sexual, financial, verbal, or emotional against the partner. Exposure to substance abuse, such as drugs or alcohol by parents and other caregivers, also can 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, or school performance, and can lead to mental health problems.

Preventing Abuse

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

Find some resources here.

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.

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

Contact Us

For more information, contact us at [email protected].

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