Department of Children & Family Services | State of Louisiana
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 20, 2012

Media Contact: Trey Williams
225-342-9640 (o)

Governor Proclaims Child Abuse Prevention Month in April
DCFS asks mandated reporters, public to Report abuse by calling 1-855-4LA-KIDS

BATON ROUGE - With April proclaimed Child Abuse Prevention Month in Louisiana by Governor Bobby Jindal, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) reminds individuals that if they see signs of child abuse and neglect they should call the statewide, toll-free number, 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437), which is available 24 hours a day to take reports of suspected child abuse or neglect.

Last July, DCFS launched the child abuse reporting hotline, 1-855-4LA-KIDS, as part of the state's new centralized intake system to report child abuse. Since the launch, there have been more than 84,000 calls received, and more than 5,000 calls in the month of April alone.

"DCFS intervened in more than 28,000 reported cases of abuse in 2011," said DCFS Secretary Ruth Johnson. "While our agency is dedicated to keeping children safe year-round, the month of April is designated to draw particular awareness to the prevalence of child abuse and to the public's role to prevent it by looking for signs of abuse or neglect and reporting suspected abuse to protect the most vulnerable of our state's population - children.

Johnson added that DCFS' child abuse reporting hotline provides a simple way for the public and mandated reporters, who are required by law to report abuse, to carry out their responsibility to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Johnson said that learning to recognize the signs of abuse or neglect is critical to helping children who may be victims. A single sign does not prove child abuse is occurring in a family, however, a closer look at the situation may be warranted when such signs appear repeatedly or in combination.

The following signs may signal to mandated reporters or members of the public the presence of child abuse or neglect*:

The Child:
  • Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
  • Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parents' attention
  • Has learning problems (or difficulty concentrating) that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
  • Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
  • Lacks adult supervision
  • Is overly compliant, passive, or withdrawn
  • Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home
The Parent:
  • Shows little concern for the child
  • Denies the existence of-or blames the child for-the child's problems in school or at home
  • Asks teachers or other caregivers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
  • Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
  • Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
  • Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs
The Parent and Child:
  • Rarely touch or look at each other
  • Consider their relationship entirely negative
  • State that they do not like each other
Physical abuse may be present when the child:
  • Has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
  • Has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
  • Seems frightened of the parents and protests or cries when it is time to go home
  • Shrinks at the approach of adults
  • Reports injury by a parent or another adult caregiver
Or when the parent or other adult caregiver:
  • Offers conflicting, unconvincing, or no explanation for the child's injury
  • Describes the child as "evil," or in some other very negative way
  • Uses harsh physical discipline with the child
  • Has a history of abuse as a child
Sexual Abuse may be present when the child:
  • Has difficulty walking or sitting
  • Suddenly refuses to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
  • Reports nightmares or bedwetting
  • Experiences a sudden change in appetite
  • Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior
  • Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14
  • Runs away
  • Reports sexual abuse by a parent or another adult caregiver
Or when the parent or other adult caregiver:
  • Is unduly protective of the child or severely limits the child's contact with other children, especially of the opposite sex
  • Is secretive and isolated
  • Is jealous or controlling with family members
Neglect may be present when the child:
  • Is frequently absent from school
  • Begs or steals food or money
  • Lacks needed medical or dental care, immunizations, or glasses
  • Is consistently dirty and has severe body odor
  • Lacks sufficient clothing for the weather
  • Abuses alcohol or other drugs
  • States that there is no one at home to provide care
Or when the parent or other adult caregiver:
  • Appears to be indifferent to the child
  • Seems apathetic or depressed
  • Behaves irrationally or in a bizarre manner
  • Is abusing alcohol or other drugs
*Source: Recognizing Child Abuse and Neglect Factsheet, Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2007

The toll-free number, 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) is manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for anyone to report suspected child abuse or neglect by a parent or caretaker. Trained child welfare workers staff the hotline to take reports of possible child abuse and neglect from the public and mandated reporters. For more information about reporting child abuse or neglect in Louisiana, visit www.dcfs.la.gov/ReportChildAbuse.

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627 N. Fourth St. | Baton Rouge, LA 70802 | PH: (225) 342-0286 | FX: (225) 342-8636 | www.dcfs.louisiana.gov



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