Child Abuse

How to report suspected child abuse:


What is child abuse?


NOTE:  The definitions are per Minnesota statutes.

Signs of child abuse

Why should I report child abuse? 

The most important reason to report child abuse is to protect the child from further abuse. Children have few resources for changing the circumstances of their lives and children who are being hurt by their caretakers rely on the intervention of others to protect them. Reporting abuse is also a way to ensure that parents who need help but are not able to ask for it are offered parenting resources.

When to call 911 to report suspected child abuse:

Not sure if you should call? 

Call 911 or child protection. Describe the situation to child protection or the police.  Remember that often the most serious abuse occurs in private and away from anyone but the children involved. What you have seen or heard may be only the tip of the iceberg.

Who must report child abuse? 

Minnesota law requires that any person whose job involves working professionally with children and who knows or has reason to believe that a child is being neglected or physically or sexually abused shall  report suspected abuse.

Are there penalties for a mandated reporter who fails to report child abuse? 

 Minnesota law requires reporting by mandated reporters who know or have reason to believe that a child is being abused or has been abused within the past three years. A mandated reporter who fails to make a report under those circumstances is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Can I get in trouble for making a report? 

No, you will not. Anyone reporting in good faith (with a reasonable belief) may not be criminally prosecuted or sued in civil court for libel, slander, defamation, invasion of privacy, or breach of confidentiality. A person who knowingly or recklessly makes a false report is not protected from prosecution or civil suit.

What should I do if a child tells me about abuse? 

As a parent, what can I do to prevent child abuse? 

Is it really necessary to talk to children about sexual abuse?

Unfortunately, sexual abuse is not as uncommon as we would like to think it is. It affects both girls and boys of all ages, from every kind of neighborhood and of all races. Studies have found that about one of every four girls and one of every eight boys has reported incidents of sexual abuse. In 85% of reported sexual abuse cases, the offender is known to the child as a friend, relative or neighbor.

Talking with children about the privacy of their bodies and what are appropriate kinds of touching is a precaution like teaching them to cross the street safely, wear seatbelts and not play with matches. Teaching kids good boundaries helps to keep them safe. Not talking about these issues, won’t make them go away.

Teaching young children that their bodies are private doesn’t have to be about sex. It can be as simple as reminding children that the parts of their bodies covered by a swimsuit are private.

For more information about child abuse

If you would like more information about recognizing and reporting child abuse, please call the Minneapolis Police Department, Central Investigations Department at (612) 673-2941 between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 p.m. The receptionist will connect you with a child abuse investigator.

Additional Resources:

Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota

Childhelp USA

Stop It Now (Preventing Child Sexual Abuse)

MN Law regarding reporting of maltreatment of minors

Hennepin County Child Protection


Last updated Jul 18, 2018



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