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Child Abuse (cont.)

Reporting Abuse

You may have questions about possible abuse in your own behavior or about the behavior of others. State law mandates that certain people, called mandated reporters, report any suspected child abuse to authorities. These are teachers, police, professional childcare providers, doctors and other health care workers.

Nonmandated reporters, however, which include almost everyone else, are frequently the first people to notice possible abuse. Ironically, nonmandated reporters are actually the people most likely to be able to identify potential abusers. They are the people who see abuse early enough to play an active role in preventing it and saving the abuser from the terrible consequences that are associated with committing an act of child abuse.

The first observer of abuse or abusive tendencies is in a position to intervene with the potential abuser before any substantial abuse has taken place.

Although we would like to think that abusers are receptive to having these tendencies pointed out, generally they are not. Counseling at this point can be life saving for both the person with abusive tendencies and the people who are being mistreated. Unfortunately, abusive tendencies frequently turn into abusive behaviors, which are usually difficult to stop. This forces the typical observer of abuse into the unenviable, but necessary, position of having to report the abuser to the proper authorities.

Reporting is the only effective step to control the abuser at this point and stop the abuse.

If reporting a pattern of abuse is delayed, the abuse situation usually gets worse until the abuser and his or her behaviors are discovered by others. At this point, law enforcement usually becomes aware of the situation and the degree of abuse may be much worse. Early intervention is the key.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/7/2012

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Child Abuse & Neglect: Physical Abuse »

Physical abuse, a subset of child abuse, is defined in various ways by different states.

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