39 CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS Signs of abuse Do you think that a child you know is being abused? Some signs to watch for include: • unexplained bruises, cuts, burns, scars, sprains or broken bones; • frequent “accidents” with questionable explanations; • major changes in behaviour; • exposure to family violence; • running away from home and not wanting to return; • repeatedly sick; • sudden weight loss or weight gain; • increased social problems at school; and • unusual knowledge of sexual behaviour for the child’s age. These things can have other causes, but they may be signs of child abuse. If you have reason to believe that a child is being abused, you have a duty to report it. Reproduced from the Department of Justice publication Child Abuse is Wrong: What Can I Do? without affiliation or endorsement of the Government of Canada. How do I report abuse? Every province and territory has a law that says any person who believes a child is being abused must report it. You can call the police or your local child protection office.We all have a role to play in stopping child abuse.We need to be alert to the signs of abuse. Friends, family and professionals all need to do their part. Call the police You can call the police if you believe a child is being abused.The police will come and help. Many police officers are trained to deal with abuse in families or relationships. Some have special training to deal with child abuse. Call 9-1-1 in an emergency. The police may arrest the person who abused the child if they believe that person has broken the law. If this happens, the abuser may stay in jail for a few hours before a bail hearing. It’s possible they may stay longer, if the judge decides that would be better. If you are afraid for your safety or a child’s safety, ask the police or victim services to let you know before the person is let go. Be sure the police know how to contact you. For more information on what a crime victim needs to know about the criminal justice system, visit the Government of Canada’s website at http://www.victimsmatter.gc.ca. Contact your local child protection office You can call your local child protection office if you believe a child is being abused.You will not get in trouble for making the report if you have reason to believe a child is being abused, even if it turns out you were wrong.