If you live in Cache, Rich or Box Elder County, report child abuse by calling the State of Utah Child Protection Hotline at (855) 323-3237 or call your local law enforcement agency.What is the law?
"Whenever any person...has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to incest, molestation, sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, or neglect, or who observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances which would reasonably result in (this abuse)...he shall immediately notify the nearest peace officer, law enforcement agency, or office of the division (Division of Child and Family Services-Department of Social Services, Protective Services)." (Utah State Code §62A-4-501)Protecting Children from Abuse is everyone's responsibility
"Reason to believe" does not mean that you must prove a child is being abused or neglected. It is the role of the investigators (law enforcement officer or Protective Service worker) to investigate and establish proof. The investigation should be conducted in a confidential and sensitive manner.
If you live in Cache, Rich or Box Elder County, report child abuse by calling the State of Utah Child Protection Hotline at (855) 323-3237.
You can also call the police department (see resources list for specific agencies) located in the city where the alleged crime occurred. Please note that if you report to law enforcement first they are mandated to notify child protective services and vice versa. Law enforcement and child protective services investigate child abuse cases as a team.
When you call to report child abuse it is important that you are able to give the authorities as much information as possible.
It is helpful if you have names and birth dates of the persons involved, their addresses and phone numbers. The most critical piece of information is the address where the crime occurred, which may not necessarily be where the child lives. Remember, it is not your job to “know for sure” if child abuse is happening. If you have enough of a reason to suspect, you have enough reason to report. It is also important to be as calm as possible when making the phone call. If you are crying and emotional it will be difficult for the intake worker to get accurate information. Referents may remain anonymous if they wish.
Investigators and prosecutors want to make sure that a child was not coached to disclose information. If a child is questioned over and over again they may think they need to tell the "person" what they want to hear or they could begin to change their story. It is best to let the professionals handle the interviewing process. Parents should avoid video or audio recording your child at home while asking them questions, as this will taint the interviewing process. Furthermore it is best practice to wait to get your child in to see a counselor until after the CJC interview has been conducted.
In some instances when alleged abuse is reported, the intake worker may not open a case based on the information you have given them. This can be very frustrating to those who feel a child is being abused and want it to stop. There is sometimes a fine line between what some deem as "bad parenting practices" and what would be defined by the law as child abuse. It is at the discretion of the agency you call to make any decisions regarding opening up a case. However, mistakes can be made and if you feel a child is continuing to be victimized, please call the reporting hot line again to restate your concerns.
Prior to CJC’s, children were interviewed multiple times by a range of professionals. This type of experience can be difficult for children. A CJC brings all the needed professionals together so that a child can be interviewed once by a trained and experienced forensic interviewer. Interviews are recorded and these recordings can serve as a child’s testimony in the early stages of the court process. CJCs provide medical assessment & treatment for child victims. In addition, the CJC serves as a source of support for the agencies involved in the investigation of child abuse allegations.
You will be greeted by a CJC staff member and asked to wait in a living room area where there will be toys, books and snacks on hand for you and your child’s comfort. Shortly after this a child protective services worker and/or detective will meet with you briefly and then go with your child to a child friendly interview room. You will be asked to wait in the living room while your child is interviewed. The CJC coordinator will give you a resource packet of information explaining the criminal justice process and will answer any questions that you have. You will be given information that will help you get connected with counselors in the area if you are interested in getting mental health services for your child. After the interview is over the detective and case worker will let you know what their next steps are going to be in investigating the case. They may recommend that your child have a medical exam, counseling or other services. This is the time to raise concerns you have or to ask any questions.
It has been our experience that many parents have difficulty containing their emotions when they hear their children disclose abuse. Some children may feel uncomfortable or reluctant to disclose abuse in front of their parents because they are embarrassed or do not want to upset them. Some children may feel they will be in trouble with their parents if they disclose sexual abuse. Also, if a parent witnesses a child’s disclosure they would automatically become a witness in a court case and may be asked to testify or be excluded from the court proceedings. Lastly, there have been occasions where children have disclosed abuse by the same parent that has accompanied them to the CJC. This disclosure may not have anything to do with the original allegation. Due to all of these factors it is not in the best interest of all to have parents accompany their child into the interview room. In cases where children are very young and refuse to be interviewed without a parent in the room an exception may be made. In this instance the parent would be instructed not to speak in the interview, cry, gasp or interrupt in other ways during the interview. The parent will not be allowed to ask the child any questions as this could be considered coaching or leading. Failure to comply with these instructions could result in the county attorney declining to prosecute the case.
If children don’t disclose information at the CJC it is very difficult for the case to proceed forward. This is because parents and therapists are considered third parties and their testimony is not admissible in court. It is required that your child disclose the information themselves to someone who is excluded from the hearsay rule. Those excluded from this rule are nurses, doctors, detectives and case workers. Sometimes if a child does not disclose but the parent has grave concerns that their child is being victimized it is best to get the child in to see a counselor who can work with the child over time. If the child then begins disclosing information, the counselor can call in another report and your child can be interviewed at the CJC again when they feel more comfortable talking about the abuse.
If the County Attorney accepts your child’s case for prosecution and the alleged perpetrator denies the allegation the case may go to trial. There is a possibility that your child may have to testify if the court case actually goes to trial. A victim advocate will be on hand to assist you and your child if this is the case. Victim advocates can put children and parents at ease by educating and preparing them for what to expect in a court room. The recording of the child’s interview at the CJC cannot replace a child’s testimony on the stand at trial, but may be used at early court hearings.
If your child discloses abuse during the interview at the Children’s Justice Center the detective assigned to the case will attempt to make contact with the alleged perpetrator for an interview. The alleged perpetrator may or may not cooperate with the detective’s request for an interview. The detective will continue with the investigation and gather any evidence and other information pertinent to the case. The caseworker will set up a safety plan with the family if the perpetrator is in the home.
The only time children are removed from their home in cases of abuse are when both parents/caregivers are alleged perpetrators and/or if the non-offending care giver is uncooperative and/or allows the child contact with the alleged perpetrator after specifically being asked not to by investigators.
In cases where the abuser is a parent living in the child’s home the investigators may ask the parent to leave the home and have no contact with the child until the case can be investigated. The detective and case worker will set up a staffing meeting at the Children’s Justice Center with a multi disciplinary team of professionals including the County Attorney who will make the final decision as to whether charges will be filed or not. If charges are filed, the case will proceed through the court system. The County Attorney’s Office has a victim services program. A victim advocate will be assigned to assist the victim and the child’s parents/caregivers during the court process once charges have been filed.
Utah Office for Victims of Crime (also known as Crime Victim Reparations) is a government funded program that pays for a variety of services for victims of crime. In the case of child sexual abuse, crime victim reparations can assist with the costs of counseling, medical care, if applicable, and in some cases changing locks on doors or moving expenses. The CJC coordinator will provide parents with a Crime Victim Reparations form to fill out. You can apply for Crime Victim Reparations to pay for anything that your insurance does not cover, such as out of pocket expenses like co-pays and deductibles. Crime Victim Reparations does require you to choose a counselor on your insurance preferred provider list. If you do not have any mental health coverage at all you can choose any mental health provider you would like and Crime Victim Reparations will pay the full amount in most situations. If you have Medicaid and live in Cache/ Box Elder or Rich County you are required go through Bear River Mental Health, as they are the only entity contracted with Medicaid. There are some agencies in the county who provide treatment at no cost, based on your income level and other factors.
CJC’s are public/private partnerships. Part of the funding for a CJC comes from the state, but a portion comes from grants and fundraising. Each CJC has a Friends group which is a 501(c) 3 organization (recognized by the IRS as a charity) and serves as the fundraising arm for the Center. If you are interested in participating in events to support the Center, please call the CJC at 435-753-7017.
CJC’s also rely on donations from the community. Ongoing needs for the CJC include bottles of water, cans of soda, individually wrapped snacks or candies, office supplies, NEW fleece blankets or quilts, NEW stuffed animals. Stuffed animals or blankets are given to all children who visit or receive services from the CJC. Blankets are also used as a drape during medical exams to protect privacy.