If a child tells you about abuse…
- Try to stay calm. If you show anger or disgust or shock, the child may change the story.
- Believe your child and say so. Children rarely lie about abuse.
- Be loving to your child. They really need your support right now. Listen well.
- Avoid blaming or asking questions like, “What were you doing there?”
- Call Child Protective Services for your city or county or the Virginia hotline (800-552-7096), and/or 911 as soon as possible to report what the child told you.
- If the abuse occurred within the past five (5) days, a medical evaluation by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner is available by going to the Emergency Department at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital (1906 Belleview Ave SE, Roanoke). Call first, if possible.
Suspected child abuse and neglect may be reported to the local Department of Social Services or to the Virginia Statewide Hotline 1-800-552-7096.
Phone numbers to call in the Roanoke Valley are:
- Botetourt County: (540) 473-8210
- Craig County: (540) 864-5117
- Roanoke City: (540) 853-2245
- Roanoke County: (540) 387-6040
- Salem: (540) 387-6040
Who Can Report
Anyone who is concerned about a child may report a suspected incident of abuse or neglect. This includes a child who believes he/she is being abused or neglected, a parent or caretaker who is concerned about abusing a child in his/her care, a concerned neighbor, relative, or citizen, and any professional required by Virginia law to report suspected abuse and neglect. A report can be made by telephone, or in writing. Reports should be made to the agency in the jurisdiction where the child lives or where the suspected abuse/neglect occurred. If neither of these is known, you may report to the agency in the jurisdiction where the abuse/neglect was discovered.
Professionals who are required by Virginia law to report suspected abuse/neglect include licensed medical practitioners; hospital residents or interns; nurses; social workers; probation officers; teachers or other persons employed in a public or private school, nursery school, or kindergarten; mental health professionals; law enforcement officers; professional staff employed by a private or public hospital, institution, or facility where children are placed; accredited Christian Science practitioners; mediators certified to receive court referrals; and any person associated with or employed by a private organization responsible for the care, custody, and control of children. These professionals must report any suspected abuse or neglect of a child within 72 hours of their first suspicion.
What Happens When I Report?
The social worker who takes your report will ask for needed information such as what prompted the call, what is or has been the problem, the extent of harm, how long the problem has been going on, the whereabouts of the caretaker and the child, and others who are aware of the situation.