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Community Organizations and Resources

Child Abuse Hotline

General Public 1-800-342-3720
Mandated Reporters 1-800-635-1522

Law Enforcement

NYS Police 583-7000 or 911
Saratoga County Sheriff 885-6761 or 911

After a Report of Child Abuse

All child abuse claims will be investigated by Law Enforcement Investigators, and, if within a family, by Child Protective Services (CPS), as well. The family is encouraged to cooperate with these agencies, because they are there to protect your child and put an end to the abuse for your child and other children. These agencies may ask you to meet them at the Harriet M. West Child Advocacy Center, our Center is child-friendly and provides a psychologically safe environment for your child. The Child Advocacy Center will then refer you to other services for the child and the family to begin the healing process.

Knowing and Identifying Signs of Abuse

The following changes in children are not necessarily proof of abuse.They are considered “red flags”, prompting you to look further. These characteristics may also exist when a child is not abused or maltreated.
Some of the changes may include;

  • Recurrent sleep disturbance or nightmares.
  • Regression to infantile behavior, i.e., bedwetting, thumb sucking, excessive crying.
  • Unexplained physical injuries, bruises, bleeding, burns to any part of the body.
  • Fear of specific persons/places/touches.
  • Somatic complaints without apparent illness, i.e, stomach ache, queasiness, headaches.
  • Withdrawal, fearfulness, running away.
  • Recent school problems.
  • Unusual interest in sexual matters; sexual behavior or knowledge clearly beyond age.
  • Genital/rectal discomfort, swelling, bleeding, discharge, infection, venereal disease.

Myths and Facts of Child Sexual Abuse

Myth: Sexual abuse only happens to girls

Fact: One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before age 18

(National Coalition against Sexual Assault)

Myth: Strangers are more dangerous to children

Fact: 95% of all victims know their perpetrator

(Connections Child Abuse Statistics)

Myth: Most rapes occur to adults

Fact: 60% of rape victims report being raped prior to age 18
29.3% report being raped before age 11
32.2% report being raped between ages 11 and 17

(National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center)

Myth: Children who are victims will usually tell someone, especially their mother

Fact: Children don’t always tell or not right away
Only 1 in 10 children tell
42% of women and 33% of men never disclose to anyone

(Prevent Child Abuse N.Y.)

Myth: Perpetrators usually pick out one child to abuse

Fact: Most perpetrators don’t molest only one child if they are not reported and stopped.
70% of child sex offenders had between 1 and 9 victims
23% had 10-40
An average serial child molester has between 360-380 victims in his/her lifetime

(National Coalition against Sexual Assault)

Myth: Children who have been victims of sexual assault always hate the perpetrator

Fact: It is common for children to like and trust the perpetrator. They may like the perpetrator, however they do not like the behavior.

Myth: Children are partially responsible for sexual contact with adults. Telling the offender to stop is all tha is necessary. If the child didn’t want it to occur they could say stop.

Fact: Children are often tricked or bribed into the sexual act. Children are never responsible.

Myth: Only men sexually abuse children

Fact: Women constitute 10% of all sexual offenses.

(Crime Library)

10 Things You Can Do to Prevent Child Abuse

  • Volunteer your time. Get involved with other parents in your community. Help vulnerable children and their families. Start a playgroup.
  • Discipline your children thoughtfully. Never discipline your child when you are upset. Give yourself time to calm down. Remember that discipline is a way to teach your child. Use privileges to encourage good behavior and time-outs to help your child regain control.
  • Examine your behavior. Abuse is not just physical. Both words and actions can inflict deep, lasting wounds. Be a nurturing parent. Use your actions to show children and other adults that conflicts can be settled without hitting or yelling.
  • Educate yourself and others. Simple support for children and parents can be the best way to prevent child abuse. After-school activities, parent education classes, mentoring programs, and respite care are some of the many ways to keep children safe from harm. Be a voice in support of these efforts in your community.
  • Teach children their rights. When children are taught they have the right to be safe, they are less likely to think abuse is their fault, and more likely to report an offender.
  • Support prevention programs. Too often, intervention occurs only after abuse is reported. Greater investments are needed in programs that have been proven to stop the abuse before it occurs – such as family counseling and home visits by nurses who provide assistance for newborns and their parents.
  • Know what child abuse is. Physical and sexual abuse clearly constitute maltreatment, but so does neglect, or the failure of parents or other caregivers to provide a child with needed food, clothing, and care. Children can also be emotionally abused when they are rejected, berated, or continuously isolated.
  • Know the signs. The following changes in children are not necessarily proof of abuse but should be considered red flags, prompting you to look further. These characteristics may also exist when a child is not abused. Some changes may include; unexplained injuries, depression, fear of a certain adult, difficulty trusting others or making friends, sudden changes in eating or sleeping patterns, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene, secrecy, and hostility.
  • Report abuse. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, make a report to the NYS Central Registry at 1-800-342-3720 or local police. When talking to a child about abuse, listen carefully, assure the child that he or she did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that he or she is not responsible for what happened.
  • Invest in kids. Encourage leaders in the community to be supportive of children and families. Ask employers to provide family-friendly work environments. Ask your local and national lawmakers to support legislation to better protect our children and to improve their lives.

Protecting Your Child From Abuse

BE AWARE of your child’s whereabouts and activities; know who your child is with at all times

SET TIME ASIDE each day to talk with your child, encouraging topics of concern.

DEMONSTRATE your ability to listen to any subject matter, without showing judgment.

HEAR what your child is saying. Don’t assume; ask for clarification. Disclosures are not always clearly stated.

RESPECT your child’s comfort level with physical contact and affection and insist that others do the same.

EDUCATE your child about “private parts”; Identify adults who can help with private parts of the body.

EMPOWER your child say “NO” to anyone who touches them in a hurting or confusing way.

PLAY “what if” games to practice what to do in a potential abuse situation.

ENCOURAGE your child to tell you if they are hurt or confused by a person’s touch, words, or actions.

BELIEVE your child when he/she reports being approached or abuse.

Statistics About Child Abuse

Did you know?

  • A report of Child Abuse is made every 10 seconds
  • Child abuse occurs at every socio-economic level, across ethnic and cultural lines, within all religion and at all levels of education
  • Three million reports of child abuse are made a year, though it is believed that the actual number of incidents are 3 times as many
  • Of the reported rapes of children under 12 years old, more than 90% of the victims knew the perpetrator
  • Children ages 0-3 are the most likely to experience abuse. They are victimized at a rate of 16.4 per 1,000
  • 52% of child maltreatment victims were girls and 48% were boys
  • 67% of all reported sexual assaults happen to children age 17 and under

And If You Don’t Get Help:

  • Long term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate behavior, poor self esteem, tendency towards substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships
  • One third of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing the horrible cycle
  • Children who have been sexually abused are 2.5 times more likely to abuse alcohol and almost 5 times more likely to become addicted to drugs
  • Abused children are 25% more likely to experience teenage pregnancy
  • Children who experience child abuse and neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crimes.
  • Nearly 38% of all women in prison and just over 14% of all men in prison in the United States were abused as children.

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