Child sexual abuse is a serious issue. If you even suspect that a child is abused, it is in the child’s best interest for you to act quickly. It is not your responsibility to conduct a complete investigation. There are trained professionals for that.
If your child or a child under your care has been a victim of child abuse, you have the right to help them seek justice. The team at D’Amore Law Group can help you through the process of how to report child sexual abuse in Oregon and Washington and how to understand your legal options. Contact us today.
What Constitutes Child Abuse?
Federal law defines child abuse as “[a]ny recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation” or “[a]n act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
This definition is primarily relevant for parents and caregivers, but abuse can come from anywhere. Each state uses slightly different wording, but this definition is generally applicable.
There are four primary types of child abuse:
Intentional use of force on a child, which can cause injury, is considered physical abuse. Some examples include hitting, shaking, burning, pushing, kicking, or other impacts on the body.
Though harder to identify, emotional abuse can be very harmful to a child’s mental well-being and perception of self-worth. It can take many forms, including shaming, name-calling, threatening, withholding love, and rejection.
Absolutely any sexual act with a child is abuse, as a child cannot legally consent to such acts. The perpetrator does not have to make a physical connection for the act to constitute sexual abuse. Acts may include fondling, penetration, showing pornography to a child, or any other exposure to sexual activities. Reporting child sexual abuse is extremely important.
Failing to meet a child’s basic emotional and physical needs constitutes child neglect. Basic needs include food, housing, clothing, education, and medical care. Children should also have appropriate emotional support.
Child Abuse Statistics
The number of abused children in the United States is astounding, and many cases go unreported. Here are some recent statistics.
- According to ChildHelp.org, more than 4 million referrals are made annually to child protection agencies involving more than 4.3 million children. One referral can include multiple children.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that at least 1 in 7 children have experienced neglect or abuse in the past year, and 1,750 children have died because of abuse and neglect.
- Over 90% of victims are maltreated by one or both parents, and 46.4% of children who die from child abuse are under one year, according to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children.
There are many factors that contribute to creating an abusive environment, but even under the best circumstances, abuse can happen to anyone. At D’Amore Law Group, we firmly believe that no degree of child abuse should ever be tolerated.
Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse
In 2021, the Children’s Advocacy Centers investigated 249,879 cases involving sexual abuse. This accounted for approximately 65% of all cases handled by the organization. According to RAINN, a child is sexually assaulted every nine minutes in the United States. Reporting child sexual abuse is the first step in fully understanding and beginning to control the problem.
How to Report Child Sexual Abuse in Oregon and Washington
Calling the local authorities is always an option for reporting child abuse. If a child is in immediate danger, please call 911. For non-immediate threats, there are some additional resources you may choose to pursue in Oregon and Washington specifically.
Oregon Department of Human Services
Contact the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). This service is available 24/7.
Washington Child Protective Services
Each district has its own local office that responds to cases in each area. There are six different regions across the state.
What Information to Provide
The more information you can provide, the easier it will be for officials to address the abuse issue. Here is some of the information you may be asked to provide:
- If the child is in immediate danger (if so, call 911);
- The full name of the child;
- The age of the child;
- The child’s home address;
- The nature and extent of the abuse;
- Who the abuser is;
- Any evidence of the abuse;
- Any other witnesses to the abuse; and
- Additional information that can help establish cause or identify the perpetrator.
You do not need all the information when determining how to report child sexual abuse in Oregon and Washington. Whatever you know will be helpful.
Filing a Claim for Child Sexual Abuse
Your child deserves justice. The first step in filing a claim for child sexual abuse is to reach out to an experienced attorney who understands the intricacies of child abuse claims in the legal system. The nature of the abuse and where it occurred will help steer your legal strategy.
For example, if your child was abused by a school official, not only is that individual liable, but the school and school district could also potentially be liable.
You do not have to have all the answers. The team at D’Amore Law Group will work with authorities to conduct an investigation into the allegations to help determine fault. Generally, all adults are obligated to provide a reasonable standard of care, and if this care is breached, they can be held civilly and criminally liable.
Justice for Child Abuse Cases
No amount of financial compensation can ever take back what has happened to your child, but it can offset the costs of therapy and other expenses related to the trauma. Child abusers often have more than one victim, and bringing the abuse to light may stop this vicious cycle. We are also community members in and outside of our four offices in Oregon and Washington, and we are committed to keeping them safe through efficient and zealous legal representation. We are here to help you every step of the way. Contact us to schedule your case consultation.