Abused children need your help.
What is Abuse?
Child abuse is defined by law (Title 10A, Section 1-1-105) as harm, threatened harm, or failure to protect from harm or threatened harm, to the health, safety, or welfare of a child by a person responsible for the child’s health, safety, or welfare, including, but not limited to, non-accidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation.
Harm or threatened harm to the health or safety of a child means any real or threatened physical, mental, or emotional injury or damage to the body or mind that is not accidental, including, but not limited to, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, neglect, or dependency.
Heinous and shocking abuse includes, but is not limited to, aggravated physical abuse that results in serious bodily, mental, or emotional injury. Serious bodily injury means injury that involves:
- Chronic abuse, including, but not limited to, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or sexual exploitation that is repeated or continuing
- A substantial risk of death
- Extreme physical pain
- Protracted disfigurement
- A loss or impairment of the function of a body member, organ, or mental faculty
- An injury to an internal or external organ or the body
- A bone fracture
- Sexual abuse or sexual exploitation
- Torture, including, but not limited to, inflicting, participating in, or assisting in inflicting, intense physical or emotional pain upon a child repeatedly over a period of time for the purpose of coercing or terrorizing a child for the purpose of satisfying the craven, cruel, or prurient desires of the perpetrator or another person
- Any other similar aggravated circumstance
Help is available.
Abused children are innocent victims who need your help.
View the typical signs and causes of abuse and learn how to respond to a child’s disclosure of abuse.
State law requires EVERY PERSON to report suspicion of abuse to the Department of Human Services.
The Department of Human Services – Child Welfare Division (DHS) and other state and community agencies provide a number of services and programs to help children and their families prevent and reduce the incidents and effects of child abuse and neglect.
If abuse is reported, the Child Advocacy Network brings together medical, mental health, investigative and legal professionals from multiple agencies to try to determine whether child abuse has occurred.
Types of Abuse
Physical abuse is any act, regardless of intent, that results in physical injury or threat of physical injury to a child. Physical abuse may result when a child is kicked, thrown, shaken, burned, cut, choked, squeezed or otherwise battered.
Sexual Abuse or Exploitation
Child sexual abuse is the exploitation of a child for the sexual gratification of an adult or significantly older person. It is called incest if it occurs between a child and any family member.
According to Oklahoma law, sexual abuse includes but is not limited to incest, rape, and lewd or indecent acts or proposals made to a child. Sexual exploitation includes but is not limited to allowing, permitting or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, lewd, obscene, or pornographic photographing, filming, or the depiction of a child in those acts. Sexual abuse can also include verbal stimulation, obscene phone calls, exposure, voyeurism, fondling, attempted intercourse, and vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.
Neglect is the failure or omission to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, supervision, special care that is made necessary by the physical and mental condition of the child, or abandonment.
Signs of Abuse and Neglect
It is important to remember that the following could also be signs of conditions other than child abuse.
Signs of Physical Abuse
- Unexplained bruises, redness or swelling
- Unexplained burns, particularly in identifiable shapes
- Frequent accidents and unexplained fractures or lacerations
- Bite marks, welts or bald spots
- Psychosomatic illnesses
- Poor social skills
- “Flinches” easily, seems easily frightened
- Fearful of returning home
- Frequent absences or tardiness
- Unkempt or “sloppy” appearance
- Hyperactive or easily distracted
- Lies excessively or gives implausible explanation for injuries
- Moves awkwardly or acts as if sore
- Avoids changing clothes in front of others (i.e., changing into gym clothes)
- Wears clothes that cover the entire body, even in hot weather
- Frequent emotional outbursts, either excessively angry or tearful
- Isolated, seems depressed; may seem “flat” in appearance or joyless
- Avoids questions about caregivers
- Chronic runaway
- Poor self-esteem
- Disruptive, disrespectful or aggressive
- Cruelty to animals or younger children
- Learning disorders, poor school performance
Signs of Sexual Abuse
- Sexually transmitted disease
- Genital pain, itching and/or bleeding
- Stomach aches
- Problems with sleep (too much, too little, nightmares
- Problems with appetite (eats too much or too little)
- Excessive masturbation
- Sexualized play or behavior
- Unexplained fears
- Regressive behavior
- Low self-esteem
- Withdrawal from others
- Difficulty concentrating, problems in school
- Animal cruelty
- Suicide attempts
- Repeated attempts to run away
- Alcohol/drug use
- Any significant changes from what is normal for that particular child
Signs of Neglect
- Poor hygiene, body odor, dirty or scaly skin
- Inappropriate clothing for weather (e.g.; heavy clothing in hot weather)
- Torn or dirty clothing
- Distended stomach
- Speech disorders (i.e., stuttering)
- Failure to thrive
- Unattended medical or dental needs
- Lack of age appropriate supervision
- Chronic illnesses (skin ulcers, allergies, etc.)
- Thinning hair
- Withdrawn, isolated
- Aggressive or hyperactive
- Begging, stealing or hoarding food
- Poor social skills
- Frequent school absences or tardiness
- Listless, lethargic or falls asleep in school
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Child states caregivers are absent or child is alone frequently
- Delinquent behavior
- Assumes “adult role” or seems “parentified”
What happens after abuse is reported?
A Department of Human Services (DHS) supervisor screens the report of child abuse to determine whether the allegation meets the statutory definition of abuse and neglect and whether the report falls within DHS’ responsibility. DHS is mandated to investigate allegations of abuse perpetrated by a caregiver. If the alleged abuse is someone other than a caregiver, DHS is required to forward the report to law enforcement.
Next, DHS assigns a child welfare worker who will begin the investigation as soon as possible. If the case involves possible criminal acts, the DHS investigator will contact the appropriate law enforcement agency. DHS and law enforcement will make every attempt to conduct a joint investigation.
The investigators who are assigned to the case may choose to utilize CAN’s services at the Children’s Advocacy Center. CAN brings together medical, mental health, investigative, and legal professionals from multiple agencies to determine whether child abuse has occurred. CAN’s centralized approach is designed to provide more efficient, accurate, and less traumatic investigation of child abuse.
After the child leaves the Children’s Advocacy Center, the investigators will continue their investigations.
When the investigation is completed, the investigators submit their findings and recommendations to the District Attorney’s Office. The DHS child welfare caseworker will submit his/her report to the Juvenile Division of the District Attorney’s Office and the detective will submit his/her report to the Criminal Division of the District Attorney’s Office.
Local & State Agencies
Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc. (DVIS)/Call Rape, a Tulsa Area United Way agency, is the only nonprofit agency in Tulsa, Okla., and the surrounding communities to provide comprehensive intervention and prevention services to men, women and, children affected by domestic and sexual violence. The DVIS/Call Rape mission is to rebuild lives affected by domestic violence and sexual assault through advocacy, shelter, counseling, and education.