April 22, 2024

Navigating A Path Forward: Steps to Take in Suspected Child Abuse Cases

As Justice for Kids marks Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s imperative that we shine a spotlight on this critical issue affecting Illinois and the broader nation. Statistics unveiled by the Department for Children and Family Services (DCFS) and the US Department of Health and Human Services paint a stark picture of the magnitude of child abuse and neglect within our communities. With over 231,000 calls to the DCFS hotline last year and an annual victim count reaching over 35,000 in Illinois alone, the urgency for awareness and action has never been more pressing.

What can be equally daunting is the uncertainty of how to proceed if you suspect a child is being abused or neglected. The importance of taking the right steps cannot be overstated, as your actions could significantly impact the wellbeing of a child. Here’s a guide on what to do if you’re faced with this critical situation.

Recognize the Signs

First and foremost, being able to identify the signs of abuse is crucial. These can vary widely but often include unexplained injuries, fear of a specific individual, sudden changes in behavior or performance at school, lack of personal care or hygiene, and the wearing of inappropriate clothing to hide injuries.

Take Action: Reporting

If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, your immediate step should be to report your concerns. In Illinois, you can contact the DCFS hotline at 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873). It’s operable 24/7, ensuring there’s always a channel to voice your concerns. Remember, you don’t need to have proof of abuse to make a report, only a reasonable suspicion. Your call can remain anonymous, and you are protected from civil liability and criminal penalties provided you’re acting in good faith.

Provide Support

While making a report is critical, providing emotional support to the child is also important. Ensure the child feels safe and heard, without pressuring them to share more than they are comfortable with. It’s important to communicate that you believe them and that they did nothing wrong by disclosing their feelings or experiences to you.

Educate and Engage

Beyond individual action, engaging in community efforts to raise awareness and educate others on the signs of child abuse and the importance of reporting can have a broader impact. Participating in or organizing events and educational programs during Child Abuse Prevention Month and beyond can mobilize community action against child abuse.


The figures related to child abuse in Illinois and nationally are more than just statistics; they represent individual children in need of protection and advocacy. Recognizing the signs of abuse, knowing how to report suspected cases, and offering support are essential steps in the fight against child abuse. As community members, our collective awareness and action can usher in hope and healing for affected families, ensuring a safer future for all children.

How Can We Help?

In our commitment to protecting children and ensuring justice, Kelley Kronenberg’s Justice for Kids division stands as a beacon of hope. With a deep understanding of the complexities of child welfare law and a passion for making a difference, our team works tirelessly to navigate the legal system on behalf of these vulnerable individuals. Whether it’s representing them in court, advocating for policy changes to improve the system, or providing support and resources to families in need, Justice for Kids is at the forefront of the fight for a safer, more just world for children.

Call us today to learn more about how we can help you champion the cause of justice for children in need. Your action today can make a lasting impact on the lives of those who need it most.

Where to Find More Information

For those seeking more information on child abuse prevention, reporting mechanisms, and support resources, check out this article from WMAY: https://www.wmay.com/2024/03/31/illinois-dcfs-marks-child-abuse-prevention-month-in-april/.

Julianna B. Walo, Esq.
Attorney, Justice for Kids
Kelley Kronenberg-Chicago, IL
754-888-KIDS (5437)