What to do when you suspect sexual abuse - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

What to do if you suspect abuse

Many people are outraged about child sexual abuse charges ripping across headlines almost every week. Child abuse counselors say a lot more could be done to prevent this from happening in the first place. 

Our child abuse experts say there's a lot to be learned from publicized cases so that future episodes of children's sexual assaults will not be repeated. 

Incidents of child sex abuse outrage people like Carrie Joseph with the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center in Cleveland, Ohio. Those in her field have a legal obligation to report abuse. 

"Mandated reporters include educational personnel, daycare personnel, physicians, clergy, essentially anybody that works with children," she explains. 

Those people are required to say and do something to stop it. Joseph says even if you don't fall into those categories, but you suspect something like sexual abuse...call it in. 

"I think where people get lost is they feel like they have to know for fact; they have to prove it," she says. "But it's only reasonable suspicion. It's not their responsibility to prove it or investigate it, just report what they have seen." 

Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Ed Tomba says if you witness something and say nothing, the abuser won't be the only one in hot water. 

"You could be charged and prosecuted for failure to report the abuse of a person or a minor," he adds. 

Advocates say no matter who you are, you have a moral obligation to first stop any abuse you see happening, then do whatever it takes to prevent it from happening again. 

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