April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month
New Yorkers are Urged to Call 311 or Abuse Hotline If They Suspect a Child is Being Abused or Neglected
New York – April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and the NYC Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) joins the nation in emphasizing that reporting child abuse at the first sign of potential trouble is the best way to keep children from being harmed.
“Every child has the right to be safe, and it is the responsibility of every one of us to report child abuse or neglect,” said ACS Commissioner John B. Mattingly. “As a community, we need to work together to prevent a child from bein`g hurt or neglected. We urge all New Yorkers to help our City’s children by calling 311 (or 911 in an emergency) as soon as you have a concern about a child.” You can also call the State Central Register for Child Abuse and Maltreatment directly at 1-800-342-3720.
Children’s Services urges all adults who suspect abuse or neglect to call 311, including parents, relatives, caregivers and neighbors, as well as professionals such as physicians, nurses, child care workers, social workers and adults who come into contact with children. This is particularly true for professionals such as educators, medical professionals, child care workers and law enforcement personnel who are mandated reporters and are required by law to report abuse if they encounter it in the course of doing their job. Mandated reporters should call the State Central Register Mandated Reporter Hotline at 1-800-635-1522.
Commissioner Mattingly pointed out that an investigation by ACS child protective staff at the earliest possible opportunity gives Children’s Services the chance to protect children from harm before anything serious has occurred. Each year, Children’s Services investigates more than 60,000 reports of alleged abuse and neglect involving more than 91,000 children. An investigation does not automatically mean that a child will be removed from his or her family and placed in foster care. Removal of children into foster care, which occurs under the oversight of Family Court, occurs only when abuse or neglect is found, and when the children in the home are in imminent danger. Many times, he said, ACS is able to provide support and preventive support services in place to help a family care for their children safely.
“Don’t assume that others are aware of a problem or have made a report,” said Commissioner Mattingly. “You must make that call to ensure that the situation is being investigated.”
This month is also an opportunity to remind parents and caregivers of important safety tips and resources available to help keep children safe.
Children’s Services and the New York State Office of Children and Family Services urge parents and caretakers not to co-sleep with infants. Sleeping with your baby can be dangerous, especially if you drink, use drugs, are overweight or are sleeping in a small bed or couch. Babies should sleep in a crib, on their back. The crib should be free of pillows, fluffy blankets or stuffed toys. A safe way to keep babies close is to move the crib or bassinet near your bed. To learn more, and to download posters and other materials, go to http://www.nyc.gov/html/acs/html/child_safety/child_safety.shtml or http://www.ocfs.state.ny.us/main/babiessleepsafestalone/default.htm
Parents who are unable to care for their newborn infants may anonymously and legally leave their infants at a safe place, such as a hospital, under New York State’s Abandoned Infant Protection Act. The infant must be a newborn, five days old or younger. Enacted in 2000, the law is designed to prevent the tragedies that occur when infants are abandoned by parents. Safe locations include firehouses, hospitals, crisis nurseries or schools. Parents must promptly notify an appropriate person of the child’s location and act with the intent that the child be safe from physical injury. For more information regarding the Abandoned Infant Protection law about when and where a person may responsibly leave an infant, please call this hotline number: 866-505-SAFE (7233).
Children’s Services also reminds mandated reporters that the ACS Office of Safety First is available to handle their inquiries about an open child protective investigation. The Safety First phone number for mandated reporters is 718-KID-SAFE (543-7233).
Copies of child safety brochures and DVDs for the general public are available by calling the Children’s Services Office of Communications at 212-341-0999.
Reports of child abuse or neglect can be reported by calling:
- 311 for NYC residents; ask to be connected to the State Central Register;
- 800-342-3720, the general public’s direct number for the State Central Registry;
- 800-635-1522, the mandated reporters’ hotline for reporting child abuse or neglect.
Go to nyc.gov/acs and click on Resources for Staff and Provider Agencies, to learn to connect to services and assistance for Mental Health, Housing, Domestic Violence, Substance Abuse, Child Care and Entitlements.
For more information on ACS, mandated reporters, and other child welfare and safety topics, please go to the ACS Website at: www.nyc.gov/acs. For more information regarding preventive services available in your neighborhood, parents can call 311 and ask for the Prevention and Parent Helpline.
Sharman Stein / Laura Postiglione 212-341-0999