There are no hard and fast rules that dictate how to respond when a child comes to you and tells you he or she is being abused. Common sense dictates that care must be taken to protect the child and honor the courage it takes to disclose. When you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you should immediately contact the Department of Children & Families (DCF) at 413-236-1800 or after hours at 800-792-5200. If you are a person who works with children in a professional capacity you are mandated by law to immediately report all suspicions of child abuse & neglect to the DCF.

  Click here for handy tips on talking with children about abuse:
 

Children who are victims of abuse must depend on the adults in their lives to pay attention to warning signs, believe them when they tell you something is wrong and respond responsibly.

 

If the situation is an emergency, first call your local police by dialing 911. Emergencies include situations where the child is in imminent danger of physical harm or sexual abuse.

   
 

Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Signs & symptoms of child abuse may be difficult to detect, as the abuse may be subtle or intentionally hidden. The abuse may be inflicted by a stranger, but it is much more likely to be inflicted by someone the child knows and loves – a family member, friend or relative.

While one sign alone may not indicate abuse, any of the following signs may signal a need for intervention.

Click to see Signs and Symptoms of abuse:
  Physical Abuse
  Sexual Abuse
  • Neglect

Who Should Report Abuse?
Reporting suspected cases of child abuse or neglect is everyone's responsibility, whether a mandated professional or a private citizen.

Mandated Reporters are required by law to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
For a list of Mandated Reporters Click Here

For the concerned, private citizen, reporting child abuse is confidential.

When Should You Report Abuse?
Whenever you have reasonable cause to believe a child under the age of 18 has been abused or neglected. Reasonable cause means a reasonable suspicion. Absolute certainty or physical proof is not required. Abuse and neglect should be reported regardless of whether you believe the perpetrator is a caretaker or not.

How Do I Report Abuse?
Call the Department of Children & Families (DCF) at the number listed below. You will be asked a series of questions. Your name will be kept confidential upon request. You will be asked to file a written report within 48 hours.

  • Monday through Friday 8:45 – 5pm - Local Pittsfield Office at 413-236-1800

  • Nights, Holidays & Weekends - Child At Risk Hotline 1-800-792-5200

Click here for Types of Abuse to report to DCF:

Click here for information DCF will ask you:

What Happens After I Make a Report?
DCF makes decisions regarding the action needed to be taken to ensure the child’s safety and well-being. DCF also refers all cases of sexual abuse and serious physical abuse to the District Attorney’s Office. This action triggers the Berkshire District Attorney’s Sexual Assault Intervention Network (SAIN) Team response.

What is SAIN?