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Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

How to Report Suspected Abuse

If someone is being hurt or is in danger right now, call 911 immediately.

Each year in Oregon, about 25,000 reports of child abuse are made and many children die from abuse. You can help these kids. More than half of the children referred to Child Welfare were referred by mandatory reporters.

On this page:

How and Where to Report

If you think a child is being abused, there are several ways to make a report:

You may be a child's best hope.

Oregon Law Recognizes These Types of Abuse

Physical Injury

  • Bruises, welts, burns, cuts, broken bones, sprains, bites, etc., which were deliberately inflicted.
  • Injuries may:
    • Be in the shape of the article used (electric cord, belt buckle, etc.)
    • Not match children's description of how they occurred (fracture from falling off sofa, etc.)


  • Failure to provide food, shelter, medicine, etc. to such a degree that a child's health and safety are endangered.
  • Children often:
    • Don't want to leave school
    • Are constantly tired
    • Are left alone with no supervision
    • Have unmet physical, emotional, or medical needs

Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation

  • Any sexual contact in which a child is used to sexually stimulate another person is illegal. This may be anything from rape to fondling to involving a child in pornography.
  • Children often have:
    • Difficulty walking or sitting; pain or itching in the genital area; torn, stained, or bloody underclothing.
    • Poor peer relationships; fantasy or infantile behavior; fear of being left with someone.
    • Inappropriate interest in, knowledge of, or acting out of sexual matters.
    • Any of the behavioral problems listed under "Mental Injury."

Threat of harm

  • Any action, statement, written, or non-verbal message which is serious enough to make a child believe s/he is in danger of being abused.
  • Children may exhibit any of the behaviors listed on this page.

Mental injury

  • A continuing pattern of rejecting, terrorizing, ignoring, isolating, or corrupting a child, resulting in serious damage to the child.
  • Children often:
    • Have speech or sleep disorders
    • Fail to grow normally
    • Are very aggressive or withdrawn
    • Show an abnormal need for emotional support

Child Selling

  • Buying, selling or trading for legal or physical custody of a child
  • Does not apply to legitimate adoption or domestic relations planning


What Does Reporting Mean?

  • Mandatory reporters must report any "reasonable suspicion" of child abuse, according to Oregon law. You need not be a mandatory reporter to contact Child Welfare with concerns of possible child abuse.
  • Child Welfare will assess the information given and take further action, if necessary.
  • Your name will be kept confidential. Only a court of law can order a reporters name released.
  • More comprehensive information on the symptoms of abuse and the law is available from Child Welfare.


Who Must Report?

According to Oregon Revised Statute 419B010,

"Any public or private official having reasonable cause to believe that any child with whom the official comes in contact has suffered abuse, or that any person with whom the official comes in contact has abused a child shall report or cause a report to be made..."

Those "public or private officials" are called Mandatory Reporters and include:

  • Physicians, including any intern or resident.
  • Dentists
  • School employees
  • Licensed practical nurses or registered nurses
  • Employees of:
    • the Department of Human Services
    • the Oregon Health Authority
    • the State Commission on Children and Families
    • the Child Care Division of the Employment Department
    • the Oregon Youth Authority
    • a county health department
    • a community mental health and developmental disabilities program
    • a county juvenile department
    • a licensed child-serving agency
    • or an alcohol and drug treatment program.
  • Peace officers
  • Psychologists
  • Clergymen
  • Licensed clinical social workers
  • Optometrists
  • Chiropractors
  • Certified providers of day care, foster care, or an employee thereof
  • Attorneys
  • Naturopathic physicians
  • Firefighters
  • Emergency medical technicians
  • Licensed professional counselors
  • Licensed marriage and family therapists
  • Court appointed special advocates, as defined in ORS 412A.004

Visit the Oregon DHS website to learn more about mandatory reporting.

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