House of Horrors – How to Report Suspected Child Abuse
Typically I like to write light-hearted, funny pieces that make you think. And there’s nothing light-hearted and funny about child abuse. By now you’ve heard about the California couple with 13 kids who were arrested and charged with torture, child abuse, abuse of dependent adults, and false imprisonment. And like many of us, you are wondering how in the hell this happened. So I did some research on how and when to report suspected child abuse and wanted to share it.
Neighbors are now saying they new something was off with these people, but didn’t pick up the phone and report it – which is a difficult thing to do. Imagine for a moment you lived next door to them. On the one hand you’d think, holy crap, I don’t want to live next door to 13 kids, but then you’d appreciate they how unnaturally quiet they were and chalk it up to their being in some weird religious cult. This could happen to any of us. How do you report someone for being too quiet? At best this family was reported for the unkempt weeds in the yard.
So what do you do? How do you know when to call the police or children’s protective services and tell report a neighbor? Here on some tips:
- Always err on the side of caution and report suspected child abuse even if you have no proof other than your gut instinct. Most states have an anonymous tip lines for people to call. If it makes you feel better to call from a public phone or block your number – do it.
- Write down a detailed account of what you witnessed or what you suspect is occuring. This will help you stay on task. Plus, once you see your words in black and white, this could reaffirm lingering doubts. It’s also good to have the pen and paper next to you to take an notes of the conversation for your records. Write down dates, times, and names of everyone you speak with.
- Know your legal protection and discuss your fears with a friend if you need additional reassurance that you are doing the right thing. A lot of people hesitate to report because they know this could lead to the breakup of a family. Trust the system to conduct a thorough investigation, even though you’ve heard stories of police and CPS dropping the ball. Keep in mind that some states have laws requiring that you report it. And if you are concerned about retaliation – a legitimate concern if the family knows you are the only witness – do some research on what type of protection your family can receive.
The brave girl who managed to escape this house of horrors and call 911, when police arrived they supposedly wanted proof of the mistreatment going on in the home. Once police realized the little girl they thought was 10 years-old, was actually 17 years-old, thankfully they agreed to do a welfare check. And from there we now know about the private hell these kids, ages 2 – 29, were living in.
When something as horrendous at this occurs, there is an uptick in reporting, and some good people can get caught up in the melee. This is not your concern. Just summon the courage and pick up the phone. You are a hero for caring to make sure everything is okay behind closed doors.