In light of the recent Penn State sexual abuse scandal, City of Alexandria officials are reminding the public to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. Residents may call the City of Alexandria Child Protective Services at 703.746.5800 24 hours a day, or the Virginia hotline at 1.800.552.7096. If a child is in immediate danger, call 911.
To make a report, complainants need only have reason to believe that abuse is occurring. Any person making a complaint is immune from liability unless it is proven that the person acted with malicious intent. Be familiar with the warning signs of physical, sexual and emotional abuse or neglect. Some signs are subtle, but when they appear often or in combination with other signs, there is reason for concern. CPS Program Manager Jennifer Cann said, “Reporting even trivial concerns is helpful, particularly in cases where a child is already known to our agency. This information is helpful in determining ongoing safety of a child.”
Complainants may report anonymously; however, anonymity cannot be guaranteed if the case goes to court, and anonymity may limit CPS’s ability to gather additional information from the reporter. When the complainant does provide a name, CPS makes every effort to protect the person’s identity. Some individuals, by nature of their profession, are mandated to report suspected abuse. All callers will be asked to provide as much information as possible about the concern and the identity of the child. CPS investigates, and if there are risks to a child, an action plan is recommended, which is subject to review by CPS supervisors and the court.
The safety of children is a community responsibility. Noticing and reporting abuse will help to ensure a child’s well-being and may save the child’s life.