Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida
Protect Children, Report Suspected Child Abuse
Child abuse goes much further than a bruise or an unexplained injury it also can take the form of emotional or sexual abuse, or even neglect. Myrian Alea, M.D., pediatric emergency medicine physician, says, regardless of the form, suspected or confirmed cases of abuse must be reported to the Department of Children and Families.
In Florida, everyone is a mandated reporter of abuse, she says. It is important to note that reporting suspected abuse or neglect does not put a child at risk, rather, it could bring benefit to the child by protecting him or her from future harm.
Children who are abused may withdraw from friends, or may begin exhibiting changes in behavior like aggression, anger or hostility. Dr. Alea shares other examples of warning signs of abuse, including:
- Depression or anxiety
- Changes in self-confidence and school performance
- Rebellious or risky behavior
- Delayed or inappropriate emotional development
The signs and symptoms of neglect may be different and can include:
- Poor growth or weight gain
- Poor hygiene
- Lack of appropriate medical, dental or psychological attention even after parents are notified
- Frequent absences from school poor school attendance
- Basic needs are not met lack of proper clothing, shoes, etc.
- Emotional outbursts
If you suspect child abuse, there are four ways to make a report to the Florida Abuse Hotline, including:
- By telephone: 1-800-96ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
- By fax: 1-800-914-0004
- Web reporting: https://reportabuse.dcf.state.fl.us/
- By TDD: 1-800-453-5145
Anyone making a report should expect to be asked questions and provide the child s demographic information, Dr. Alea explains. Once the report is submitted, your obligation as a mandatory reporter is complete. The Hotline counselor assesses the information, determines if the information provided meets statutory criteria to conduct an investigation, and will contact DCF or law enforcement, or both.
Any and all suspicions of child abuse in any form deserve attention and immediate action. Ensuring the safety of children is crucial, and it s our responsibility as mandated reporters
Myrian Alea, M.D.
Pediatric Emergency Medicine
Golisano Children s Hospital of Southwest Florida
9981 S. HealthPark Drive
Fort Myers, FL 33908