Child Abuse

Unfortunately child abuse happens often and is not confined to any one social class, ethnic group or religious background. It can occur in any family and it happens more than we would like to think it does.
If your child has been the victim of abuse, your immediate concerns must be for the child/children.  There are many resources that can assist you.  
If someone is being hurt or is in danger right now, call 911 immediately.

Report child abuse to the Department of Human Services (DHS) or a local police department (Bend, Redmond, Sunriver, Black Butte), the Sheriff's Office, Juvenile Department or the Oregon State Police.
  • Child Abuse Hotline for Deschutes County: (541) 693-2700
    Office Hours: Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    After Hours: Call 911
Click here for Questions and Answers about reporting abuse and neglect.

What is child abuse and neglect?

Child abuse is defined by ORS 419B.050 and ORS chapter 163 as any assault of a child and any physical injury to a child which has been caused by other than accidental means, including any injury which appears to be at variance with the explanation given of the injury. 
Other types of child abuse are Rape; Sexual Abuse; Sexual Exploitation; Contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor (ORS 167.002 to 167.027, or definitions 163.665) and (163.670); Allowing, permitting, encouraging or hiring a child to engage in prostitution or to patronize a prostitute (ORS chapter 167).
Negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child; threatened harm to a child; buying or selling a person under 18 years of age (ORS163.537); Permitting a person under 18 years of age to enter or remain in or upon premises where methamphetamines are being manufactured; Unlawful exposure to a controlled substance (ORS 475.005 to 475.285 and 475.752 to 475.980).
ABUSE does not include reasonable discipline unless the discipline results in one of the conditions described above.
CHILD means an unmarried person who is under 18 years of age.

Types of Child Abuse

Child Neglect
Child neglect – a very common type of child abuse – is a pattern of failing to provide for a child’s basic needs, whether it is adequate food, clothing, hygiene, or supervision. Child neglect is not always easy to spot. Neglected children are not getting their physical and emotional needs met.
Physical Child Abuse
Physical abuse involves physical harm or injury to the child. It may be the result of a deliberate attempt to hurt the child, but not always. It can also result from severe disciplining, such as using a belt on a child, or physical punishment that is inappropriate to the child’s age or physical condition.
Many physically abusive parents and caregivers insist that their actions are simply forms of discipline – ways to make children learn to behave. But there is a big difference between using physical punishment to discipline and physical abuse.
Child Sexual Abuse: A Hidden Type of Abuse
Child sexual abuse is an especially complicated form of abuse because of its layers of guilt and shame. It’s important to recognize that sexual abuse doesn’t always involve body contact. Exposing a child to sexual situations or material is sexually abusive, whether or not touching is involved.
Sexual abuse frequently occurs at the hands of someone the child knows and should be able to trust – A relative, friend of the family, neighbor and so on. It is not just girls who are at risk. Boys and girls both suffer from sexual abuse. In fact, sexual abuse of boys may be underreported due to shame and stigma.

Recognizing Abusive Behavior in Yourself

How do you know when you've crossed the line? Possible indications or examples:
  • You can't stop the anger.
  • You feel emotionally disconnected from your child.
  • Meeting the daily needs of your child seems impossible.
  • Other people have expressed concern.
If you need professional help…
Do you feel angry and don’t know where to turn? In the U.S., call 1-8004-A-CHILD to find support and resources in your community that can help you break the cycle of abuse.  There are many local resources available listed at If you believe you need immediate help dial 911.

Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

If you suspect a child is being abused, it’s critical to get the help he or she needs. Reporting child abuse seems so official. Many people are reluctant to get involved in other families’ lives.
Understanding some of the myths behind reporting may help put your mind at ease if you need to report child abuse.
  • I don’t want to interfere in someone else’s family: The effects of child abuse are lifelong, affecting future relationships, self-esteem, and sadly putting even more children at risk of abuse as the cycle continues. Help break the cycle of child abuse.
  • What if I break up someone’s home? The priority in child protective services is keeping children at home – unless the child is clearly in danger. Support such as parenting classes, anger management or other resources may be offered first to parents if safe for the child.
  • They will know it was me who called: Reporting can be anonymous. In most cases, you do not have to give your name when you report child abuse.
  • It won’t make a difference what I have to say: If you have a gut feeling that something is wrong, it is better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t see the whole picture, others may have noticed as well, and a pattern can help identify child abuse that might have otherwise slipped through the cracks.
As difficult as reporting child abuse or neglect can be, it's important for you to stand up for a child in need. Learn how to communicate effectively in different situations. Read: Child Abuse Reporting Tips.