Community Education (Available in Spanish)

Our commitment to the safety of children extends beyond those served at the Will County CAC. We will provide a Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse presentation, highlighting the the signs and symptoms of child abuse to any  school, daycare, after-school program, church, or child-serving organization.  Let us help you train your staff on how to recognize and report child abuse! Email us at cac@willcountyillinois.com with your request.

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How To Protect Your Child

Take the time to talk to your child.
  • Be calm and confident before discussing this topic with your child.
  • Do not scare your child; your tone should be neutral, educational and empowering.
  • Let your child know that you are always there for him/her and always want to protect him/her.
  • Teach your child that the parts of their body that a bathing suit covers are private parts and that no one is allowed to see or touch them there.
  • Allow time for your child to process and to ask you questions.
  • Have your child identify 5 safe people they can talk to if someone ever makes them uncomfortable.
  • Make talking to your child about personal safety an ongoing dialogue rather than a single conversation.
  • It’s important not to interrogate children. Ask simple, open-ended questions in a calm manner: "Has anyone ever made you feel uncomfortable or scared? Has anyone ever asked you to keep a secret?"
Familiarize yourself with the policies and practices of organizations where your children spend time.
  • Confirm background checks are conducted on all employees and volunteers.
  • Ensure policies are in place that prohibit situations where an adult can be alone with your child in one room when no one else is around.
  • Talk to your child to find out if the policies are being followed when you are not there.
  • Require all staff and volunteers to be trained annually on child safety and on how to make a report.
Be vigilant and ASK questions!
  • Watch for changes in your child’s behavior. If your child is reluctant to go certain places or to be with certain people, ask questions.
  • Notice their behavior before and after spending time alone with an adult.

If a child does reveal something concerning, believe the child. Reassure him/her that he/she has done the right thing in telling you and that what happened is absolutely not their fault. Call the DCFS Child Abuse Hotline immediately: 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873), or dial 911.

DO NOT interview the child or contact the alleged offender — report your suspicions and let the appropriate authorities investigate.

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Signs of Abuse

The following are signs commonly associated with abuse, but they are not absolutes. This list is not a checklist but a guide to help identify abuse when it is present.

Physical Abuse
  • Frequent injuries that are unexplained and/or when the child or parent cannot adequately explain injury causes such as: bruises, cuts, black eyes, fractures, burns
  • Burns or bruises in an unusual pattern that may indicate the use of an instrument
  • Lack of reaction to pain
  • Injuries that appear after the child has not been seen for several days
  • Evidence of delayed or inappropriate treatment for injuries
  • Injuries involving the face, backs of hands, buttocks, genital area, abdomen, back, or sides of the body
  • Frequent complaints of pain without obvious injury
  • Complaints of soreness or discomfort when moving
  • Aggressive, disruptive, and destructive or self-destructive behavior
  • Passive, withdrawn, emotionless behavior
  • Fear of going home or seeing parents
Sexual Abuse
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underclothing
  • Pain, swelling, or itching in genital area
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Excessive seductiveness, inappropriate sex play, or premature understanding of sex
  • Role reversal, overly concerned for siblings
  • Significant weight change
  • Suicide attempts (especially adolescents)
  • Threatened by physical contact or closeness
  • Extreme fear of being alone with adults, especially if of a particular gender
  • Sudden refusal to change for gym or to participate in physical activities
  • Sexual victimization of other children
  • Major change in normal mood or behavior
Neglect
  • Obvious malnourishment or inadequate nutrition
  • Lack of personal cleanliness
  • Torn and/or dirty clothes
  • Need for glasses, dental care, or other unattended medical attention
  • Consistent hunger, stealing or begging for food
  • Distended stomach, emaciated
  • Lack of supervision for long periods of time
  • Frequent absence or tardiness from school
  • Regularly displays fatigue or listlessness or falls asleep in class
  • Reports that no caretaker is at home
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Extreme loneliness and need for affection
Emotional Abuse
  • Speech disorders
  • Delayed physical development
  • Substance abuse
  • Ulcers, asthma, severe allergies
  • Habit disorders (sucking, rocking, biting)
  • Antisocial or destructive behaviors
  • Delinquent behaviors (especially adolescents)
  • Developmentally delayed

Help us continue to provide hope, healing & justice for abused children.

Last year, the Will County Children's Advocacy Center served more than 430 Will County children (and their non-offending family members) who were sexually abused, severely physically abused, or who had witnessed a violent crime.

Children who have been victimized and receive program services at the Will County CAC, are less likely to: abuse drugs or alcohol, grow up to become victims of domestic violence, become involved in some sort of criminal activity, suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, or post-traumatic stress disorder, and/or develop suicidal ideation and self-harm.

Your financial gift can make a profound difference in changing a child’s life.