Report Abuse and Neglect

Need to report abuse or neglect?

To report a potential case of child abuse or neglect, immediately contact the county DSS office where the child resides. Intake staff will assist the person making the report and assess the information provided to determine if an investigation is necessary. 


Local law enforcement offices can also file reports of potential abuse or neglect and ask DSS to investigate the case.

Click Here To Report

 

Protecting Children from Abuse and Neglect

DSS is part of our state’s public safety system. DSS is responsible for protecting children and vulnerable adults from abuse and neglect by their parents, guardians, caretakers or other relatives. DSS works to keep children and vulnerable adults safe in their own homes with supportive services. If the child or vulnerable adult can’t be made safe at home, Law Enforcement or the courts remove the endangered child or adult, and DSS places the child in kinship or foster care, or helps the vulnerable adult have their needs met safely out of the home.

 

South Carolina law requires that certain professionals report suspected cases of child abuse or neglect because they have unique opportunities to observe and interact with children. To learn more about mandated reporters click here.

Any person under the age of 18 who is believed to have been harmed or at risk of harm by their parents, guardians, or other caregivers.

The Out of Home Abuse and Neglect Investigations unit (OHAN) investigates child abuse and neglect that occurs in foster care placements or at child care facilities. To report a case of child abuse or neglect that has occurred in one of these settings please call:

Between 8:30am -5:00pm: 1-803-898-7669
After Hours: 1-800-645-9789

24 Hour Children’s Helpline

Toll free number: 1-888-722-2580

The children’s helpline is provided by case managers to the children in foster care on a printed card. This helpline is available for children who have concerns or issues that cannot be resolved with their caseworker.

Neglect

Neglect is when a parent or guardian does not provide for the basic needs of a child, though capable of doing so. Neglect can include not meeting physical, medical, educational or emotional needs. 

Possible Signs: underweight, poor growth pattern, and failure to thrive; inappropriate dress, consistent hunger, and poor hygiene; consistent lack of supervision; unattended physical and medical problems and needs; lack of proper medical or mental health services; significantly high absences from school; and abandonment.

Important Note: This list of signs does not include all signs, not all children will exhibit these signs, and sometimes these signs may be indicators of other issues. When in doubt, report suspicions of abuse and neglect to Law Enforcement or DSS.

Physical Abuse

A physical injury as a result of such as being hit, kicked, choked, thrown, pushed, or whipped by a parent or guardian. This may result in marks, cuts, burns, blisters, scratches, broken bones, sprains, dislocated joints, lifelong injury or death.

Possible Signs: any injury to a child who is not yet crawling; visible injuries such as: human bite marks, lacerations or abrasions, burns in the shape of an iron, grill or cigarette, immersion burns and any other significant unexplained marks or bruises; injuries at different stages of healing; frequent unexplained absences from school. Children may be aggressive, withdrawn, depressed, anxious, or demonstrate violent themes in art or fantasy.

Important Note: This list of signs does not include all signs and not all children will exhibit these signs and sometimes these signs may be indicators of other issues. When in doubt report suspicions of abuse and neglect to the Law Enforcement or DSS.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is the fondling of genitalia, exposure to sexually explicit material, penetration, incest, rape, indecent exposure and exploitation though prostitution or creating child pornography by a caregiver.

Possible Signs: difficulty walking or sitting; torn, stained, or bloody underclothing; pain, swelling, or itching in genital and/or anal area; pain during urination; bruises, bleeding or lacerations in genital and anal area; venereal disease; withdrawn; exhibiting sexual behaviors not usual for the child’s particular stage of human development.

Important Note: This list of signs does not include all signs, not all children will exhibit these signs and sometimes these signs, may be indicators of other issues. When in doubt, report suspicions of abuse and neglect to the Law Enforcement or DSS.

Exposure to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence itself is not a form of child abuse, but exposure to domestic violence, and/or witnessing the aftermath of domestic violence can have an effect on children that is similar to the effects of children who experience physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Episodes of domestic violence may become more frequent and more severe over time and can lead to child abuse, if it is not already happening.

Possible Signs: displays other signs of abuse, withdrawn, anxiety, sleeplessness, nightmares, difficulty concentrating, increased agitation, increased anxiety about being separated from a parent, intense worry about their safety or the safety of a parent.

Important Note: This list of signs does not include all signs, not all children will exhibit these signs and sometimes these signs may be indicators of other issues. When in doubt, report suspicions of abuse and neglect to the Law Enforcement or DSS.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse is repeated behavior by an adult or caregiver that stunts a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may come in the form of threats, rejection, dehumanizing language, ongoing criticism, shaming or humiliating, and isolation.

Possible Signs: speech disorders; lags in physical development or failure to thrive; hyperactive and/or disruptive behavior; isolation; withdrawn; significantly more attention given to another sibling; delays in development; phobias; sleep disorders; anxiety, destructive or anti-social behaviors; suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Important Note: This list of signs does not include all signs, not all children will exhibit these signs and sometimes these signs may be indicators of other issues. When in doubt, report suspicions of abuse and neglect to the Law Enforcement or DSS.

Important Note: The lists above indicate common signs associated with abuse and neglect, but all children’s experiences and reactions are unique, therefore, some children will show no signs or may exhibit other signs not listed. When in doubt, report suspicions of abuse and neglect to the Law Enforcement or DSS.