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Child Protective Services

In accordance with Section 43-21-105 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, "Abused Child means a child whose parent, guardian or custodian or any person responsible for his care or support, whether legally obligated to do so or not, has caused or allowed to be caused upon said child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, emotional abuse, mental injury, non-accidental physical injury or other maltreatment. Provided, however that physical discipline, including spanking, performed on a child by a parent, guardian or custodian in a reasonable manner shall not be deemed abuse under this section."

In regard to physical abuse, it is important to understand that although parents, guardians and custodians are legally allowed to utilize corporal punishment, they are not allowed to cause bruises, marks, or other injuries to children when utilizing corporal punishment. Any evidence of such will constitute abuse by the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

Who is considered to be a child?

A person who has not reached his/her 18th birthday.

Who do I call to make a report?

A report may be made to the Hotline, 800-222-8000, a statewide toll-free 24-hour line that is answered seven days a week.

What happens when I call in a report?

When a report is received, the report is screened by a supervisor to decide whether it should be investigated. If the report warrants an investigation, it is then assigned to a worker. First, the worker will interview the child privately. Then every member of the household is seen and interviewed privately. At least one non-family member (teacher, doctor, etc.) who knows the child is interviewed. When the facts back up an abuse report, the Department will make a report to the district attorney within 72 hours. The district attorney determines whether criminal charges can be filed.

How old must a child be to be left alone at home?

It depends on each individual child's maturity.

Who may report a suspected case of child abuse?

In accordance with Section 43-21-353 of the Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated, "Any attorney, physician, dentist, intern, resident, nurse, psychologist, social worker, family protection worker, family protection specialist, child caregiver, minister, law enforcement officer, public or private school employee or any other person having reasonable cause to suspect that a child is a neglected child or an abused child, shall cause an oral report to be made immediately by telephone or otherwise and followed as soon thereafter as possible by a report in writing to the Department of Human Services, ..."

Do people who are reporting a suspected case of child abuse have to identify themselves?

No.

What will happen if you know of abuse and don't report it?

Upon being found guilty, the individual shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $5,000, or by imprisonment in jail not to exceed one year, or both. Mississippi Code of 1972, Annotated Section 43-21-353(7).

What are some indicators of abuse?

Emotional/Verbal Abuse is anything said or done that is hurtful or threatening to a child and is the most difficult form of maltreatment to identify:

  • Name calling, "You're stupid"
  • Belittling, "I wish you were never born"
  • Destroying child's possessions or pets
  • Threatens to harm child or people they care about, "I'm going to choke you” or “I'll break your arm”
  • Locking a child in a closet or box
  • Rejecting a child
  • Isolating a child

Sexual Abuse is any inappropriate touching by a friend, family member, anyone having on-going contact and/or a stranger such as:

  • Touching a child’s genital area
  • Any type of penetration of a child
  • Allowing a child to view or participate in pornography
  • Prostitution, selling your child for money, drugs, etc.
  • Forcing a child to perform oral sex acts
  • Masturbating in front of a child
  • Having sex in front of a child

Physical Abuse is any type of contact that results in bodily harm such as bruising, abrasions, broken bones, internal injuries, burning, missing teeth and skeletal injuries:

  • Hitting or slapping a child with an extension cord, hands, belts, fists, broom handles, brushes, etc.
  • Putting child into hot water
  • Cutting the child with a knife or any other sharp object
  • Shaking or twisting arms or legs, yanking a child by the arm
  • Putting tape over a child's mouth
  • Tying a child up with rope or cord
  • Throwing a child across a room or down the stairs

Neglect means not meeting the basic needs of the child and is the most common form of maltreatment:

  • Medical - not giving a child life-sustaining medicines, overmedicating, not obtaining special treatment devices deemed necessary by a physician
  • Supervision - leaving child/children unattended and leaving child/children in the care of other children too young to protect them (depending upon the maturity of the child)
  • Clothing and good hygiene - dressing children inadequately for weather, persistent skin disorders resulting from improper hygiene
  • Nutrition - lack of sufficient quantity or quality of food, letting a child consistently complain of hunger and allowing the child to rummage for food
  • Shelter - having structurally unsafe housing, inadequate heating, and unsanitary housing conditions.

Call 800-222-8000 or 601-432-4570 to report abuse, neglect or exploitation of a child in Mississippi.

Reports can also be made online at https://www.msabusehotline.mdhs.ms.gov

Division of Family & Children's Services
800-345-6347 | 601-359-4999

®2015 Mississippi Department of Human Services. All rights reserved.