What you can do
Don’t ever assume that your children are safe, even if they are being cared for by someone you know well. Approximately 90 percent of all child abuse cases involve offenders whom the child and/ or the child’s family know and trust.
Do not expect children to protect themselves from abuse or to alert you about abuse. Children often are too scared or ashamed to tell an adult they’ve been hurt, even adults they trust. Many children are threatened or bribed by their abusers, and children feel shame for what has happened to them, believing it is their fault or that they “asked for it.”
Here are steps you can take to protect your children from abuse:
- Listen, believe and trust what they tell you. Children rarely lie about being abused, and they often fear telling an adult about it.
- Always let your children know that anything they tell you will not get them in trouble. If someone makes them feel unsafe, they should never be afraid of getting in trouble for telling you.
- Know your child’s friends and everyone in the homes your child will visit before the child is ever alone with anyone. Never let your child into a home that you have not visited or be cared for by adults whom you have not met.
- Have regular discussions with your children about abuse, their bodies, and their right to protect themselves by saying “no.” Don’t wait for them to bring it up.
- Teach your child what is healthy and normal physical, emotional, and sexual behavior. Be open and honest. If you do not teach your child, someone else will.
- Give your children specific, age-appropriate information on where bodies should or should not be touched. Let them know it’s never OK for someone to touch them, and it’s OK to tell if someone does.
- Tell your children that they should socialize only with people with whom they feel safe. Encourage them to tell a trusted adult about anyone who makes them feel unsafe, scared or anxious, or who touches them in any way that they do not like. Make sure they know they will not get in trouble for telling an adult.
- Tell your children that any touching that makes them uncomfortable is never OK, emphasizing that no touching should ever be kept a secret. Let them know that someone might try to trick them into thinking it is OK, but it is never OK for an adult to tell them to keep a secret. Let them know that if someone tells them to keep a secret that involves touching or abuse, that means the person is doing something bad, and they should tell another adult right away.
- Learn about the sex education and child abuse prevention programs at your child’s school.
- The “Stewards of Children” program teaches local adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child abuse. Learn more
Types of Abuse
Child abuse can happen anywhere, to any child. The risk for abuse exists whenever a child has interactions with others. Abuse can manifest itself in many ways, and not all forms of child abuse leave visible or obvious signs. Visible or not, abuse can cause a lifelong impact on the child’s body and mind.
The primary types of child abuse are:
- Witnessing abuse or domestic violence
- Drug exposure and endangerment
Signs of Abuse
Sometimes child abuse can be so subtle that you may not see the physical signs, but other indicators are present :
Unexplained injuries -- Visible signs of physical abuse can include unexplained markings, bruising, or burns. Sometimes these markings occur in shapes that could resemble objects. You may be given unconvincing or inconsistent explanations.
Behavioral changes -- An abused child may appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or aggressive.
Regression of behavior -- Children who have been abused may display behaviors that you would expect at earlier ages, such as thumb sucking, bed wetting, fear of the dark, or fear of strangers. Some children may lose language skills or have memory problems.
Fear of going home or to a caregiver’s home -- An abused child may express fear of leaving a place that is safe, such as school, to go where someone has been abusive.
Changes in eating -- You may notice an unusual loss or gain of weight in the child.
Sleep pattern changes
-- Children may have nightmares. They may have difficulty falling asleep and appear tired throughout the day.
Changes at school -- A child who has been abused may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences. Sometimes adults will keep the child home to hide suspicious injuries.
Lack of personal care or hygiene -- A child being abused may not be properly cared for. The child’s clothes may be dirty or inappropriate for the weather. The child may be dirty and frequently uncovered, or have body odor not appropriate for the child’s expected developmental age.
Risky behaviors -- Anger and frustration may lead an abused child to use drugs and alcohol or to carry a weapon.
Inappropriate sexual behaviors -- Some sexually abused children demonstrate overly sexualized behavior or use inappropriate sexual language. They may not realize their behavior is inappropriate because this behavior is “normal” for them in their home.
If You Suspect Abuse
All citizens have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. If you ever suspect abuse, please have the courage to report what you have seen or heard. The law protects members of the public who make good-faith reports of suspected child abuse and neglect.
Investigation of a report does not mean the child will be taken from home. It simply ensures that someone will confirm the child’s safety and health. You do not need to know names, addresses, and birthdays to make a report, although that information is helpful. If you see something suspicious or alarming involving a child, please call the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). Please also contact local law enforcement.
Where to report abuse
Coos County Sheriff’s Department (541) 396-2106
Oregon State Police (541) 269-5000
North Bend Police (541) 756-3161
Coos Bay Police (541) 269-8111
Bandon Police (541) 347-2241
Coquille Police (541) 396-2114
Myrtle Point Police (541) 572-2124
- Powers Police (541) 439-2411
Department of Human Services (DHS)
County Mental Health Department
- Coos County (541) 756-5500
- Curry County (541) 469-7878
- Douglas Country (541) 271-4851
Child Abuse Hotlines
- Coos County (541) 756-8601