Thursday, April 5, 2012
DCF Commissioner Blake Stresses Abuse and Neglect Awareness During National Child Abuse Prevention Month
Report Child Abuse or Neglect in NJ by Calling 1-877 NJ ABUSE
TRENTON, NJ – The Department of Children and Families (DCF) Commissioner Allison Blake is reminding residents that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, a time to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect and encourage individuals and communities to support children and families throughout the Garden State. Governor Chris Christie has also declared April as Child Abuse Prevention Month in New Jersey.
According to DCF Commissioner Allison Blake, reporting child abuse is not someone else’s responsibility, but rather the shared duty and responsibility of a caring and compassionate society.
“Preventing child abuse and neglect is important not just in April, but all year round,” Commissioner Blake said. “Preventing child abuse is everyone’s concern. Reporting suspected abuse or neglect is the first step in potentially saving a child’s life.”
In New Jersey, any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse should immediately report this information to the State Central Registry (SCR). The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by trained professionals.
To report suspected child abuse and neglect in New Jersey, simply call the toll-free number: 1-877-NJ ABUSE (1-877-652-2873).
Commissioner Blake explained that any person who, in good faith, makes a report of child abuse or neglect is immune from any criminal or civil liability. She assured that calls can be placed to the hotline anonymously.
When a report to the hotline indicates that a child may be at risk, an investigator from the Division of Youth and Family Services will promptly investigate the allegations of abuse and neglect within 24 hours of receipt of the report, Blake said.
“Callers should never be concerned they will get in trouble or be wrong about suspected abuse,” she said. “It is not the responsibility of institutions or private citizens to come to a conclusion about the suspicion of child abuse or conduct their own investigation. We have trained professionals who make those determinations. All we need the public to do is make that first call.”
Some signs of suspected child abuse and neglect can be physical indications such as bruises or marks on the skin, or emotional or verbal cues such as a child saying they are afraid of someone or acting afraid in the presence of someone.
“If you suspect a child is being abuse, please call the hotline today,” Blake emphasized. “It may be the most important call you make to change the course of a child’s life.”
For more information on the Department of Children and Families, or resources available to parents and families, visit www.state.nj.gov/dcf.