What is Child Abuse?
Physical Abuse includes unjustified beatings or torture of children, including violent shaking and conduct that causes severe injuries and/or death.
Sexual Abuse is usually committed by someone known to the child, and children rarely report this immediately.
Computer Crimes Against Children including the creation and possession of child pornography; luring children through emails, chatrooms, and social networks; and sending inappropriate messages or pictures to children on-line.
Examples of Child Abuse
Physical Abuse: Archana is an adult who works at an afterschool program. Archana notices that every few weeks, 8-year-old Josiah has a new set of bruises or marks on his arms. Josiah’s parents say that Josiah is an active boy who always bumps into things and falls down, but Josiah says his father hits him when he spills things.
Physical Abuse includes unjustified beatings of children, as well as violent shaking of infants, burning, and other conduct that causes significant injuries or death. Under the law, however, not all corporal punishment is a crime. If Archana suspects that Josiah is being abused, Archana is a Mandated Reporter who must call the State Central Register.
Sexual Abuse: Maria lives at home with her three children. For the past year, Maria’s new boyfriend has lived with the family. One day, Maria’s 11-year-old daughter, Wendy, tells Maria that Maria’s boyfriend has been kissing Wendy on the mouth and neck. Maria doesn’t know if this was abuse or something else. Maria loves her new boyfriend and counts on him for financial support, child care, and love, and she is afraid that reporting it will tear apart her life and be traumatic for Wendy.
Sexual Abuse is usually committed by someone known to the child, and children rarely disclose abuse right away. A child will probably not feel comfortable talking to a parent about the details of what happened. Maria should contact someone who can help: the police, ACS, our Office, the Child Advocacy Center, and other professionals are trained to interview children, help discover the truth, and to help decide what to do next.
Computer Crimes and Luring: Bill and Sandy have a 12-year-old daughter, Jasmine, who loves to use the computer. Jasmine plays games, talks in chatrooms, and has a MySpace page. Bill and Sandy notice that one person contacting Jasmine on MySpace is an adult male who offers to help Jasmine with her homework.
Computer Crimes Against Children include the creation and possession of child pornography; luring children through emails, chatrooms, and social networks; and sending inappropriate messages or pictures to children on-line. Keep computers in an area of your home where adults can see what’s going on; do not permit your children to have passwords that you don’t know; and make sure your children never agree to provide personal information or to meet in-person with someone they have met on-line. Our Office provides trainings and help sessions to schools, parents, kids, and anyone who would like to learn more about how to keep children safe on-line.
Protecting Children and Their Families
Our Child Abuse Unit investigates and prosecutes allegations of sexual and physical abuse of children. Our goal is to make sure that children are safe and healthy. We investigate and prosecute these offenders, where appropriate, to make sure that the abuse stops and that no other children are harmed. But we also work with children and their families to make sure that they are healthy – physically and emotionally – and able to understand and deal with these situations.
Prosecutors in the Child Abuse Unit have extensive experience and specialized training in these types of cases. They attend trainings across the country on the best practices for interviewing children, building child abuse cases, helping victims and their families move forward with their lives, and getting convictions where appropriate. In the Unit, a single prosecutor handles each case from beginning to end so that children and their families can be as comfortable as possible throughout the life of the case. There is an Assistant District Attorney from the Unit on call 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Hotline: 212-335-4308.
Experts All Under One Roof
At the beginning of a case, most children are seen at the Safe Horizon Manhattan Child Advocacy Center, located on 122nd Street and Park Avenue. There, local and national experts in the field – including NYPD’s Special Victims Squad, specially trained workers from the Administration for Children’s Services, pediatricians with specialized training in identifying and treating child abuse, Safe Horizons social service providers, and prosecutors from our Child Abuse Unit – all work together in a child-friendly setting to promote an effective and efficient response to child abuse while minimizing the trauma to child victims. The Center allows for an immediate and thorough investigation by the agencies, as well as instant availability of services for the children and their families.
The Child Abuse Unit at the District Attorney’s Office
In our main office at 1 Hogan Place, the Child Abuse Unit has a child-friendly waiting room and play area so that children and families can be at ease in our office. We have social services staff on-site, including a Child Victim Specialist who helps children feel comfortable and helps parents and families understand the process and get the services they need. Referrals are available for individual counseling, family counseling, medical treatment, housing issues, and safety planning.
Reporting Child Abuse
Few things are more sad and terrifying than someone abusing a child. But all too often, child victims and their families are afraid or embarrassed to report the abuse. But reporting child abuse is always the right thing to do: we must stop the abuse, and we must make sure that children and their families get the help they need. Whether or not the case can be prosecuted, the Child Abuse Unit is here to help you figure out the best steps to protect your child and your family.
100 Centre Street, Room 231
New York, NY 10013
1753 Park Avenue (at 122nd Street)
New York, NY 10035