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

Conduct Parents Display That May Indicate Child Abuse or Neglect

  • Berating, shaming, blaming, or rejecting the child

  • Relying on the child for the parent's own emotional needs

  • Offering 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, they can assess the situation and take appropriate action.

  • Call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) if:

    • You suspect abuse

    • You are a child abuse victim

    • You 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 some 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

    • Report suspected abuse and neglect

  • The National Council on Child Abuse & Family Violence has 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

The State Department can help stop or prevent your child from being kidnapped overseas by a parent or family member.

International Abductions in Progress

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

If Your Child Has Been Abducted and Taken Overseas

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

Preventing Abductions

If you fear your child is at risk of international parental abduction:

Learn about international kidnapping laws.

Report Child Pornography

Child pornography includes any image of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor. A minor is anyone younger than 18. 

Child pornography can include:

  • Drawings

  • Cartoons

  • Sculptures

  • Paintings

  • Photographs

  • Films

  • Videos

  • Computer-generated images or pictures

Reporting Child Pornography

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: April 8, 2019