Crimes Involving Children

Find information about crimes involving children including abductions, abuse, and neglect.

Child Abuse and Neglect

Child abuse is harm done to a child through a physical, emotional, or sexual act, or by neglect or abandonment.

Signs of Child Abuse and Neglect

Some common signs of abuse or neglect of a child include:

  • Unexplained bruises
  • Overly passive or overly aggressive behavior
  • Staying away from or being afraid to go home
  • Lacking clean or appropriate clothes, food, or other basic necessities

Signs that a parent may be abusing or neglecting their child include:

  • Indifference or apathy
  • Berating, shaming, blaming, or rejection
  • Relying on the child for the parent's own emotional needs
  • Conflicting or unconvincing explanations of a child's physical injuries

Report Suspected Child Abuse

If an abusive event is in progress or you know or suspect someone abused, neglected, or exploited a child, call 911.

You may also:

  • Contact your local child protective agency. If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, or if you are a child who is being maltreated, contact your local child protective services office or law enforcement agency so professionals can assess the situation.
  • Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) if you suspect abuse, are a child abuse victim, or are a parent who needs help. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and operates in the United States, its territories, and Canada.

There are also a number of other resources available with information on how to handle a suspected child abuse and/or neglect situation:

  • The Child Welfare Information Gateway has information on how to protect a child’s safety, support families, prevent child maltreatment, and report suspected abuse and neglect.
  • The National Council on Child Abuse & Family Violence has compiled contact information by state for reporting child abuse.
  • Each state controls and operates its own child protective services. Visit your state’s health and human resources website for more information.

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International Kidnapping

The U.S. Department of State's Office of Children's Issues (OCI) can help you in cases of international kidnapping (abduction) of a child by a family member.

Emergencies - Abductions in Progress

Contact OCI immediately if your child is in the process of being abducted internationally by a family member, and is not yet abroad.

Kidnapping after the Fact

Contact OCI for help if a family member has kidnapped a child to the U.S. or kidnapped a child from the U.S.

Please note: OCI does not suggest you attempt to "re-abduct" your child at any time.

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Report Child Pornography

Federal law defines child pornography as any kind of visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (any person younger than 18). This includes drawings, cartoons, sculptures, paintings, photographs, films, videos, or computer-generated images or pictures.

To report child pornography, contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

Child Pornography in the Mail

It is illegal to send child pornography through the U.S. Mail. For more information, visit the U.S. Postal Inspection Service's section on child exploitation.

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Last Updated: August 15, 2017