Episode 52: Helping a Friend series - "What Should I Do If My Friend's Parents are Abusing Them?"Support the show
Today, as part of our series on Helping A Friend, we’re answering questions from teens about helping a friend experiencing abuse or neglect from their parents.
This is Jessica Skultety, Community Outreach Associate at Safe+Sound Somerset. We are Somerset County, New Jersey's lead domestic violence response organization, providing services at no charge for survivors of dating and domestic abuse for over 40 years.
Today's question from local teens is: What should I do if my friend’s parents are abusing them?
Child abuse can and often does gets worse, unfortunately. If your friend tells you or you think something is off, tell a trusted adult immediately. Every adult 18 in the state of New Jersey and over is a mandated reporter, meaning they have to report immediately if there is reasonable cause to believe a child is or has experienced abuse or neglect.
It can be an anonymous report and there is no proof needed. Plus, if someone doesn’t report but it is later found out that they suspected child abuse, they can actually be charged as a disorderly person.
Also, just because Child Services is investigating, it doesn’t mean your friend will be separated from their family. Within 24 hours of a report, Child Services will visit the home to see if it is a safe place for any children under 18 present. Safety is the goal. Child Services also helps the family get what they need, which could mean supplies and connections to other services.
If a friend is experiencing child abuse, it’s always best to say something to a trusted adult, even if your friend tells you not to. Don’t delay in bringing it up because these situations often do get worse. You can help by standing up and reaching out, which makes a difference in your friend’s life and shows maturity.
To report a suspicion of child abuse or neglect, please call your local police department or the NJ Child Abuse Hotline at (877) 652-2873.
Call or text the Safe+Sound Somerset 24/7 confidential hotline to speak to an expert about dating violence at 866-685-1122. We can provide supportive listening, information, and safety planning.
Want to “Ask Ava” a question? Visit our website at www.safe-sound.org/ask-ava. Thank you for listening today. Join us next time here on Ask Ava.