If You Are Being Abused
Every child has the right to live without abuse or neglect.
- Physical abuse – bruises, broken bones, burns, black eyes, head trauma
- Neglect – unsanitary living conditions, extreme hunger, medical needs uncared for, lack of basic hygiene, no apparent adult supervision, exposure to drugs or alcohol
- Sexual abuse – sexual conduct with a minor child including indecency, sexual assault, online solicitation, trafficking, child pornography or photographing or filming a child in an obscene manner.
- Emotional abuse – excessive threats, psychological manipulation, or fear of being abused
If you are experiencing any of these actions, tell an adult. You can tell a non-offending parent or caregiver, a teacher or educator, a doctor or nurse, or any other adult that you trust. They must report it to Child Protective Services (CPS) at 800-252-5400. Or they can report it to your local law enforcement office. You can also call this number or tell your school law enforcement officer on campus or your local law enforcement office.
The important thing is that you act quickly so that professionals can make sure you are safe. You want to get help immediately.
If You Know or Suspect Someone is Being Abused
If you think that a friend, family member or perhaps one of your classmates is being abused or neglected or maybe they even told you about what is happening to them, tell an adult immediately. It might be frightening or confusing to tell someone, but it is the best way to help them.
If You Are the Victim of Sex Trafficking
Sex trafficking of minors is when there is a transaction of money, goods or services of children for the purpose of sex. Many children and youth in the greater Houston area are being coerced into the sex trade industry. This can happen quickly and without your consent or even your knowledge that this is happening. You might have been approached by someone who you thought was safe, would love you and give you a better life. But, it turned out to not be the case and you find yourself being exploited.
Know that you can get out of this dangerous, life-threatening situation and get back to safety. There are many agencies in the community here to help you.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Traffick911 exists to free youth from sex trafficking with a three-prong strategy of prevention, identification and empowerment. Traffick911 also has a youth prevention program called Traps, which teaches youth how to #BeSmartStayFree from traffickers by understanding their tricks, traps and lures.
National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC)
The National Human Trafficking Resource Center is a national, toll-free hotline, available to answer calls from anywhere in the United States, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in more than 200 languages. The NHTRC’s mission is to connect human trafficking victims and survivors to critical support and services. It offers round-the-clock access to a safe space to report tips, seek services and ask for help.
24-hour call center: 1-888-373-7888.
United Against Human Trafficking
United Against Human Trafficking focuses on training key front-line professionals, such as law enforcement, health care providers, social workers, educators, and others who may come into contact with victims of human trafficking.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children provides assistance to law enforcement and families to find missing children, reduce child sexual exploitation and prevent child victimization.
Arrow Child & Family Ministries: Freedom Place
Freedom Place is a comprehensive Christ-Centered care and recovery center for underage female victims of child sex trafficking.
Daya empowers south Asian women, their children and families who are trying to break the cycle of domestic and sexual violence and reclaim their lives.
Sojourn Landing is a drop in center, based in Houston, to assist survivors of human trafficking and the commercial sex trade by meeting basic needs and sharing resources with them.
Help is Available to You
Maybe you are scared to tell about your abuse or maybe you have been threatened by your abuser or a family member if you tell. But, know that there are people in our community who are here for you. You do not have to go through your childhood enduring abuse. Child Advocates of Fort Bend is here to help you. We have a safe place where you can tell an adult what is happening to you. We have advocates who make sure you get the help and support you need if you should have to leave an unsafe home. We have counselors and therapists who help you heal. And all our services are free so you don’t have to worry about not being able to pay.
We know it can be scary to think about telling but there are people who can help you figure out the best thing to do. Call Child Protective Services at 800-252-5400 or contact Child Advocates of Fort Bend at 281-341-9955 to get help.
How To Stay Safe on the Internet and on Social Media
If you are viewing this website, you are using the internet. You probably are online every day – whether doing a school project, texting a friend, playing an interactive video game or watching a movie. It’s important that you are safe when using online communication.
Cyberbullying is when someone uses the Internet or social media to bully another person. No one is allowed to bully another student or teacher. This violates your school policy. Do not initiate or join in an existing or viral bullying post. This is extremely harmful to the child or teacher who is being victimized because it could damage their reputation, embarrass them and might lead them to retaliate, to act out or to hurt themselves. If you are aware of cyberbullying, report it to an adult immediately.
Sexting is sharing a personal, explicit, intimate, provocative, or sexual in nature photo or video of oneself with another person. This might be done voluntarily or it might have been the result of coercion by another person. Images can be quickly shared with tens, hundreds, even thousands of other people within minutes as images go viral. It could be a situation that escalates and the victim finds herself/himself having to post increasingly more graphic photos because they have been threatened that these photos will be exposed if they don’t comply. The result can be devastating for the victim.
Be careful when considering posting personal comments and images online — because you never know where these comments or images will end up. A good tip is to avoid posting content about sex, alcohol or anything else that you wouldn’t want your parents to see.
Cyberbaiting is when students make a deliberate attempt to provoke others, then capture the response on video and post it online where anyone can see it. These images or videos can go viral and cause harm and embarrassment to the victim. They are against school policy.
E-mail and Instant Messaging
Be wary if you receive messages from people you don’t know. Cyberbullies or scam artists can anonymously send harassing messages or spam. Sometimes these messages contain viruses or inappropriate content. You may not know the true identities of your “buddies” on IM programs, so be wary of IM’s from unknown persons.
Many online games have communication features which allow the users to interact anonymously. Using instant chat features, forums and voice-enabled interactions, children can communicate and collaborate with gamers all over the world. Unfortunately, these features can also expose children to people who may not have their best interests in mind. If you receive inappropriate material, do not respond or agree to meet this person offline. Tell an adult.
Children as victims
Online child pornography and solicitation of minors are criminal offenses and are against the law. If you are being exploited by being photographed or videotaped in an intimate or pornographic way, tell an adult. No child should be coerced or made to engage in these activities. Don’t let any adult coax or coerce you into doing something you do not want to do or that you know is wrong.
Child abuse can happen to any child from any kind of family. When children are abused it is never the child’s fault. Nobody has the right to hurt a child or do something to a child that makes them feel uncomfortable.
If somebody is hurting you or doing something to you that does not feel right you should trust your gut and tell someone. If it does not feel okay to you then it probably is not right and it needs to stop.
You need to tell an adult that you trust. Good people to tell are parents, teachers, counselors, people from church, or a friend’s parents. If the person you tell does not believe you or does not change anything to make you safe then you should tell someone else who you trust. You can also call the hotline yourself. The number is 1-800-252-5400 and they will help you.
Someone will talk with you or bring you to the Children’s Advocacy Center where you can talk about what has happened to you. People will also talk with your parents to see if they will be able to keep you safe. Everyone wants children to be at home with their family in a safe place and that will always be what they try to do. If it is not safe for you to go home, then the adults will figure out another way for you to remain safe while they work with your family to help them keep you safe.
The most important reason to tell is because it is not okay for kids to be hurt and the only way to stop it is to tell someone who can help. It can be frightening to tell a secret like this but adults who hurt children need to get help so they can learn not to hurt children.