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.

International Kidnapping

Resources from the U.S. Department of State can help prevent or stop a child’s international kidnapping (abduction) by family members, non-custodial parents, and others. Learn about international kidnapping laws.

Potential Abductions and Abductions in Progress

If your child has been abducted and is in danger of being taken outside of the U.S. in an international kidnapping:

If Your Child Has Been Abducted

If your child has been abducted and taken outside of the United States already:

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: September 20, 2018