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Child Abuse

The victims need the strength and reassurance of their parents. If a parent finds out the child has been a victim, the most important thing is to ensure the child's safety and well being. This means the parent must remain calm and under control. This is especially important in sexual abuse cases where parental help is needed to calm the child.

Definition: A child abuser is any person who willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of such child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits such child to be placed in such situation that its person or health may be endangered, or willfully inflicts upon any child any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition.

Aiding a Physically Abused Child

Medical examinations are necessary in physical abuse cases to determine the extent of injuries and to provide expert medical verification that injuries did occur.

Aiding a Sexually Abused Child

In sexual assault cases, medical attention is needed not only to gather evidence from the victim's body and clothing, but also to determine whether or not any of the following are true:

  • The child was injured.
  • The assault resulted in pregnancy or venereal disease.
  • Other physical indications that support the victim's claims.

If the sexual assault happened within the past 72 hours, hospital attention should be sought quickly. Before the examination, do not bathe or otherwise clean the victim. Be sure to bring clean clothing for the victim. Clothing worn during the assault will be kept by the police.

Reporting a Child Abuse

Notify the authorities:

Santa Barbara Police Department

  • 911 - if it's in progress
  • 897-2300 - to make a report

Child Protective Services

  • (800) 367-0166
  • (805) 683-2724 or
  • (805) 692-5743 after 5 PM, weekends, holidays

Persons reporting actual or suspected child abuse incidents are protected by law from civil liabilities and retaliatory lawsuits, provided the reports are made in good faith and without malicious intent. The identities of the persons making the reports are kept confidential and, in some cases, reports will be accepted anonymously, if necessary.

It is a crime for a person to fail to report physical and / or sexual child abuse if that person has a professional / special relationship with the child (i.e., teacher, principal, school official, doctor, medical personnel, psychiatrist, psychologist).

Conducting the Investigation & Making the Report

When a call is received by the Police Department, a uniformed police officer is sent to see the victim and conduct an initial investigation.

Conducting the Full Investigation

When the police or County Children's Protective Services receive a report of suspected child abuse or neglect, a full investigation is launched. Both agencies are concerned with the safety of the child an share information, although they have different responsibilities during the investigation. The police department, for example, concentrates on determining whether or not a criminal offense has been committed. Children's Protective Services, on the other hand, determines the state of the victim's well being and the need for civil intervention. This joint effort is believed to be best for the victim.

Apprehending & Prosecuting the Suspect

This depends on many factors, especially the following:

  1. Identification of the suspect.
  2. Credibility of the victim's testimony.
  3. Strength of the evidence.
The Crimes Against Persons Section conducts follow-up investigations involving investigates physical and sexual abuse cases.