Information for Professionals

DVCAC provides Professional Training on a variety of topics. These trainings are appropriate for individuals working with children in any capacity. CEU's are available to social workers, counselors and therapists for all classes. Click here for more information.

DVCAC also provides a Personal Safety Skills Program that educates school-aged children on how to recognize and respond to unsafe situations and to find a trusted adult to help. For more information about this program, please click here.

Information and Statistics about Child Abuse

Children who have suffered trauma in the forms of child abuse and/or domestic violence often suffer physically, emotionally and academically. Serious negative effects for children include behavioral problems, poor academic performance, impaired problem solving skills and low levels of empathy (Carter et al 1999).
Several studies have shown a relationship between various forms of household dysfunction (including childhood abuse) and poor health (Flaherty et al., 2006; Felitti, 2002). Other psychological and emotional conditions associated with abuse and neglect include panic disorder, dissociative disorders, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, depression, anger, posttraumatic stress disorder, and reactive attachment disorder (Teicher, 2000; De Bellis & Thomas, 2003; Springer et al 2007).

The negative effects of experiencing abuse and/or witnessing domestic violence can persist into adulthood, including depression, low self-esteem, violent practices in the home, and criminal behavior (Silvern et al 1998). One long-term study found that as many as 80 percent of young adults who had been abused met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder (including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and suicide attempts) at age 21 (Silverman, Reinherz, & Giaconia, 1996). Adults who experienced abuse or neglect during childhood are also more likely to suffer from physical ailments such as allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, high blood pressure, and ulcers (Springer et al 2007).

A National Institute of Justice study found that abused and neglected children were 11 times more likely to be arrested for criminal behavior as a juvenile, 2.7 times more likely to be arrested for violent and criminal behavior as an adult, and 3.1 times more likely to be arrested for one of many forms of violent crime (juvenile or adult) (English, Widom, & Brandford, 2004). Research also reflects an increased likelihood that abused and neglected children will smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol, or take illicit drugs during their lifetime (Dube et al., 2001).

It is estimated approximately one-third of abused and neglected children will eventually victimize their own children (Prevent Child Abuse New York, 2003).

2,432 children were abused and/or neglected in Cuyahoga County in 2012 (Children's Defense Fund-Ohio)

Domestic violence and child abuse are often closely linked. Various studies have shown that between 45% and 70% of children exposed to domestic violence are also victims of physical abuse themselves (Oufsky 1999). The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse named domestic violence as “the single greatest precursor to child abuse fatalities in the United States” (1995). During 2010 the City of Cleveland dispatch received 19,670 calls reporting domestic violence and DVCAC received 16,555 calls to the 24 Hour Domestic Violence Helpline.

Long-Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect

(Adapted from Child Welfare Information Gateway)

An estimated 905,000 children were victims of child abuse or neglect in 2006 (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008). While physical injuries may or may not be immediately visible, abuse and neglect can have consequences for children, families, and society that last lifetimes, if not generations.

Physical Health Consequences: Shaken baby syndrome, impaired brain development, poor physical health
Psychological Consequences: Difficulties during infancy, poor mental and emotional health, cognitive difficulties, social difficulties

Behavioral Consequences: Difficulties during adolescence, juvenile delinquency and adult criminality, alcohol and other drug abuse, abusive behavior

Warning Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

*From "Child Abuse and Neglect: Recognizing and Preventing Child Abuse

Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse

  • Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong.
  • Shows extremes in behavior (extremely compliant or extremely demanding; extremely passive or extremely aggressive).
  • Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver.
  • Acts either inappropriately adult (taking care of other children) or inappropriately infantile (rocking, thumb-sucking, tantruming).

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse in Children

  • Frequent injuries or unexplained bruises, welts, or cuts.
  • Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
  • Injuries appear to have a pattern such as marks from a hand or belt.
  • Shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or seems afraid to go home.
  • Wears inappropriate clothing to cover up injuries, such as long-sleeved shirts on hot days.

Warning Signs of Neglect in Children

  • Clothes are ill-fitting, filthy, or inappropriate for the weather.
  • Hygiene is consistently bad (unbathed, matted and unwashed hair, noticeable body odor).
  • Untreated illnesses and physical injuries.
  • Is frequently unsupervised or left alone or allowed to play in unsafe situations and environments.
  • Is frequently late or missing from school.
  • Warning signs of sexual abuse in children
  • Trouble walking or sitting.

Displays knowledge or interest in sexual acts inappropriate to his or her age, or even seductive behavior.
Makes strong efforts to avoid a specific person, without an obvious reason.
Doesn’t want to change clothes in front of others or participate in physical activities.
An STD or pregnancy, especially under the age of 14.
Runs away from home.

Helping an Abused or Neglected Child

*From "Child Abuse and Neglect: Recognizing and Preventing Child Abuse"

What should you do if you suspect that a child has been abused? How do you approach him or her? Or what if a child comes to you? It’s normal to feel a little overwhelmed and confused in this situation. Child abuse is a difficult subject that can be hard to accept and even harder to talk about.

Just remember, you can make a tremendous difference in the life of an abused child, especially if you take steps to stop the abuse early. When talking with an abused child, the best thing you can provide is calm reassurance and unconditional support. Let your actions speak for you if you’re having trouble finding the words. Remember that talking about the abuse may be very difficult for the child. It’s your job to reassure the child and provide whatever help you can.

Tips for Talking to an Abused Child

  • Avoid denial and remain calm. A common reaction to news as unpleasant and shocking as child abuse is denial. However, if you display denial to a child, or show shock or disgust at what they are saying, the child may be afraid to continue and will shut down. As hard as it may be, remain as calm and reassuring as you can.
  • Don’t interrogate. Let the child explain to you in his or her own words what happened, but don’t interrogate the child or ask leading questions. This may confuse and fluster the child and make it harder for them to continue their story.
  • Reassure the child that they did nothing wrong. It takes a lot for a child to come forward about abuse. Reassure him or her that you take what is said seriously, and that it is not the child’s fault.
  • Safety comes first. If you feel that your safety or the safety of the child would be threatened if you try to intervene, leave it to the professionals. You may be able to provide more support later after the initial professional intervention.

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

If you suspect a child is being abused, it’s critical to get them the help he or she needs. Reporting child abuse seems so official. Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives.

Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse

I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family. The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.

What if I break up someone’s home? The priority in child protective services is keeping children in the home. A child abuse report does not mean a child is automatically removed from the home - unless the child is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.

They will know it was me who called. Reporting is anonymous. In most states, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse. The child abuser cannot find out who made the report of child abuse.
It won’t make a difference what I have to say. If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.

What Information Do I Need to Make a Report?

  • The name and address of the child you suspect is being abused or neglected
  • The age of the child
  • The name and address of the parents or caretakers
  • The name of the person you suspect is abusing or neglecting the child and the address if available
  • The reason you suspect the child is being abuse and neglected
  • Any other information which may be helpful to the investigation

You have the option of giving your name or reporting anonymously. Giving your name can help the investigator clarify information. The agency will not give your name to the person suspected of abusing the child.

Please Note: All of the above information is not needed to make a report. If you are not sure you have enough information to report, always err on the safety of the child. Children services screens all reports to determine if there is enough information to investigate.

What Happens After a Report is Made?
In Ohio, after a report is made,

  • A child protective services investigator will interview the child, family members & others as deemed appropriate.
  • The investigator determines if the child is being abused or is at risk for abuse.
  • The case may be referred to local social service agencies, or to juvenile, family or criminal court.

What is a Mandated Reporter?
A mandated reporter is someone required by law to report if they suspect or know that child abuse if occurring. A list of mandated reporters for Ohio includes:
Child care workers
Children Services personnel
Day care personnel
Physicians including hospital interns and residents
School authorities, employees and teachers
Social Workers
Speech Pathologists
Animal Control Officers/Agents

To report child abuse in Cuyahoga County, OH, call 216.696.KIDS (5437)
To Get Help call our Family Helpline 216.229.8800