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What is Abuse/Neglect?

The Louisiana Children’s Code provides the following definitions of abuse and neglect by a parent or caretaker:

"Caretaker" means any person legally obligated to provide or secure adequate care for a child, including a parent, tutor, guardian, legal custodian, foster home parent, an employee of a public or private day care center, an operator or employee of a registered family child day care home, or other person providing a residence for the child.

“Abuse”means any of the following acts which seriously endanger the physical, mental or emotional health and safety of the child. 

  • The infliction, attempted infliction, or as a result of inadequate supervision, the allowance of the infliction or attempted infliction of physical or mental injury upon the child by a parent or other person.
  • The exploitation or overwork of a child by a parent or any other person.
  • The involvement of the child in any sexual act with a parent or any other person, or the aiding or toleration by the parent or any other person of the child’s sexual involvement with another person or of the child’s involvement in pornographic displays, or any other involvement of a child in sexual activity constituting a crime under the laws of this state.

“Neglect” means the refusal or unreasonable failure of a parent or caretaker to supply the child with necessary food, clothing, shelter, care, treatment, or counseling for injury, illness, or condition of the child, as a result of which the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health and safety is substantially threatened or impaired.

Neglect includes prenatal neglect. It is the unlawful use by a mother during pregnancy of a controlled dangerous substance that results in symptoms of withdrawal in the infant or the presence of a controlled substance in the infant’s body.

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Types of Abuse

Abuse: an act which seriously endangers the physical, mental or emotional health of a child.

Physical—the physical handling of a child in a manner that serves to discharge the parent’s (or other adult’s) anger. Includes any use of excessive force which threatens the health or well-being of the child, even if the person considers the acts appropriate discipline.

  • Examples: beatings, burns, human bites, strangulation, immersion in scalding water, Shaken Baby Syndrome
    • Results in: broken bones, bruises, welts, scars, internal injuries.

—a pattern of behavior that attacks a child’s emotional development and sense of self-worth.

  • Examples: withholding love and affection, constant criticizing, belittling, insulting, rejection, parental demands for perfection, conflicting or erratic demands, unfavorable comparisons to other siblings and use of shaming to punish.

—denotes the exploitation of a child for sexual gratification of a perpetrator. Sexual abuse may range from exposure and fondling to intercourse.

  • Examples: incest, child prostitution, child pornography
    • Physical: fondling, inappropriate touching, rape or attempted rape, making child pornography.
    • Non-physical: indecent exposure, talk about sex designed to shock or interest the child, allowing child to watch or hear sexual acts or materials.

—the failure of a caretaker to provide the child with the basic necessities of life.

  • Examples:
    • Physical: lack of food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education
    • Emotion: failure to provide love, support and guidance.

—use of insulting, belittling language to scold or harshly revile the child; Unkind words that are aimed at tearing down or destroying a child’s self-image.

  • Examples: unkind words aimed at tearing down or destroying a child’s self-worth.

Call KIDLINE (1-800-CHILDREN) for more information on how to report abuse in your area.

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What are Signs and Symptoms of Child Abuse and Neglect?

The first step in helping abused or neglected children is learning to recognize the signs of child abuse and neglect. The presence of a single sign does not prove child abuse is occurring in a family; however, when these signs appear repeatedly or in combination you should take a closer look at the situation and consider the possibility of child abuse.

If you do suspect a child is being harmed, reporting your suspicions may protect the child and get help for the family. Call the DCFS Child Protection hotline at 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437) toll free 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. More information on the signs and symptoms of child abuse/neglect.

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Who are Mandated Reporters?

Mandated reporters are any of the following individuals performing their occupational duties:.

  • “Health practitioner” is any individual who provides health care services, including a physician, surgeon, physical therapist, dentist, resident, intern, hospital staff member, podiatrist, chiropractor, licensed nurse, nursing aide, dental hygienist, any emergency medical technician, paramedic, optometrist, medical examiner, or coroner who diagnoses, examines, or treats a child or his family.
  • “Mental health/social service practitioner” is any individual who provides mental health care or social services diagnosis, assessment, counseling, or treatment, including a psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage or family counselor, social worker, member of clergy, aide, or other individual who provides counseling services to a child or his family.
  • “Member of the clergy” is any priest, rabbi, duly ordained clerical deacon or minister, Christian Science practitioner, or other similarly situated functionary of a religious organization unless not required to report a confidential communication as defined in the Code of Evidence Article 511.
  • “Teaching or child care provider” is any person who provides or assists in the teaching, training and supervision of a child, including any public or private school teacher, teacher's aide, instructional aide, school principal, school staff member, bus driver, coach, professor, technical or vocational instructor, technical or vocational school staff member, college or university administrator, college or university staff member, social worker, probation officer, foster home parent, group home or other child care institution staff member, personnel of a residential home facilities, a licensed or unlicensed day care provider, or any individual who provides such services to a child in a voluntary or professional capacity.
  • Police officers or law enforcement officials.
  • “Commercial film and photographic print processor” is any person who develops exposed photographic film into negatives, slides, or prints, or who makes prints from negatives or slides for compensation.
  • "Mediators" appointed pursuant to Children's Code, Chapter 6 of Title IV.
  • "Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)" is any CASA volunteer under the supervision of a CASA program appointed pursuant of Chapter 4 of Title IV.
  • "Organizational or Youth Activity Provider" is any person who provides organized activities for children, including administrators, employees, or volunteers of any day camp, summer camp, youth center, or youth recreation programs or any other organization that provides organized activities for children.
  • "Coach" is any school coach including but not limited to public technical or vocational school, community college, college or university coaches and coaches of intramural or interscholastic athletics.

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What form do mandated reporters use to report abuse/neglect?

Download Mandated Reporters Form to report child abuse.

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How to Report Child Abuse

Reporting suspected abuse is the most important step you can take to protecting our children. If you suspect abuse, call the agencies listed below or if the child is in immediate danger CALL 911 - You may remain anonymous.

When making a report of suspected abuse please be prepared to provide the following information if you have it: 

  • Child’s name, age and address
  • Brief description of the child
  • Current injuries, medical problems or behavioral problems
  • Parents’ names and names of siblings in the home

Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) Statewide Hotline:  1-855-452-5437
(The Department of Child and Family Services investigate if the child lives with the offender or the offender is a caretaker of the child.)

Caddo Parish Child Protection Hotline:  (318) 676-7622
Bossier Parish Child Protection Hotline: (318) 741-7340
(These agencies investigate if the child lives with the offender or the offender is a caretaker of the child.)

Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Department: (318) 675-2170
Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Department: (318) 965-2203
(These agencies investigate if the abuse occurred outside the city limits.)

Shreveport Police Department: (318) 673-7300
Bossier City Police Department: (318) 741-8611
(These agencies investigate if the abuse occurred inside the city limits.)

Caddo OCS (child protective services): (318) 676-7622     
Bossier OCS (child protective services): (318) 741-7340
(These agencies investigate if the child lives with the offender or the offender is a caretaker of the child.)

Helpline for parenting tips or support: 1-800-348-KIDS (5437)
Gingerbread House: (318) 674-2900
Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana:  (318) 425-8060

If you have questions about who to call or when to call, please feel free to call the Gingerbread House.

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How To Prevent Child Abuse

Gingerbread HouseIt is critical for parents to understand that 93% of children are victimized by people they know (Darkness to Light;  Less than 7% of children are victimized by a stranger. Both have devastating consequences. Empower your children and help keep them safe by educating them.

Child abuse is an issue that must be addressed by the entire community. The best way to prevent child abuse is to increase awareness about the legal responsibility to report suspected abuse, provide education about the dynamics of abuse, understand its long term effects, and most important, have a conversation with our children. The Gingerbread House has an entire educational curriculum on preventing abuse, known as  Knowledge is Power, with components for children, parents, educators, professionals, and mandated reporters.  For more information contact Alex Person, Family Advocate/Forensic Interviewer, at (318) 674-2900 or

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Tips for Parents

  • Teach children the correct names for all their different body parts, including their private body parts.
  • Help young children remember by using a description such as “body parts covered by a swimsuit”.

  • Establish family safety rules about touching.
  • Tell children that NO ONE has the right to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Teach kids to:

      1. Say words that mean NO (“Leave me alone” / “Stop that” / “I don’t want to do that”)
      2. Get away.
      3. Tell a grown up.

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“NO → GO → TELL”

  • Safety steps help children know what to do.

    Remember, it is NEVER a child’s fault if someone breaks the touching rules.

    Children rarely lie about being abused. Believe the child who tells you he/she has been abused and seek professional help by reporting the abuse.

  • Ask Questions. Be informed. Know who your children spend time with. FOLLOW YOUR GUT REACTIONS.

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