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Kentucky

All Kentuckians are mandated reporters. If you believe a child is being abused or neglected, call the Child Protection Hotline.

1-877-KYSAFE1 or 1-877-597-2331

For contact information in other states, please visit our Report It page.

Additional Support:

Child help: National Abuse Hotline:
1-800-4-CHILD
or 1-800-422-4453

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Parent Perspective: Protect My Children With Me, Not Against Me

I don’t know who else out there generally relates to everything Chuckie Finster from Rugrats stood for, but my already-present tendency to worry only got that much worse after becoming a first-time mom. Raise your hand if you were also issued a frequent flyer number from the pediatrician’s office front desk staff for excessive calls during those precious (but scary) newborn and infant months. 

And while parenting websites and magazine articles are full of developmental milestone checklists and poop color charts (if you are not a parent yet, you will need this and can thank me later), something that doesn’t get talked about as often is bruising.

It’s easier to discuss cyber safety tips for children who are of age to browse the web and don’t talk to strangers or get in someone’s van, but it’s hard to wrap your head around someone wanting to harm a squishy little baby or wobbly toddler. Unfortunately, it happens, and parents need to be prepared. 

You can never fully know anyone and as thorough of a verification process you go through there will always be risk when your little ones are around others. And while I hate to think of something happening to my children, I want to be able to immediately recognize if it does so I can get them the necessary–and potentially life-saving–treatment they need as quickly as possible. Here are a couple of steps I take as a mom to ensure I am being proactive: 

Researching child care facilities

Unless you work at the daycare/after-school program your children attend, you will never know everything that goes on behind closed doors. One way I learn about programs is to solicit word-of-mouth firsthand experiences from other parents. Another step I take in making a decision is to check the STARS rating online. Lastly, I make sure to tour the facility and ask questions to see if it feels like a good fit for my family in-person.

Updating medical documentation

Being a family of color, all of my kiddos have Mongolian spots, which are birthmarks that can be blueish green to black (which can overlap certain stages of the color of bruises). Some of their marks are also located on body parts that are of concern for signs of abuse explained in the TEN-4 FACESp bruising rule. This is something I made sure to discuss with my children’s doctors and have listed in their record.

Vetting babysitters

Have you seen the squinting-at-a-thumb-sized-paper meme captioned “a list of people I trust to babysit my child?” That’s me. But I’m also not a kangaroo with a convenient built-in bodily fanny pack that allows me to take my children everywhere with me either. When I do need someone to watch my children, I make sure to interview them, conduct background checks, and call all their references.

The other side of the coin

Being a diligent parent, it is my job to keep my children safe. At the same time, though, it is my kids’ competing job to explore their environment—and that exploration can be messy, and sometimes dangerous. 

Unfortunately, all the really neat biological survival instincts necessary to make it in the wilderness (like outrunning predators, climbing trees, and foraging for food) don’t exactly translate very well to safety within the home and it can seem like kids are just magnetically drawn to hurting themselves any way possible. If you ever leave just one outlet uncovered after vacuuming, see how quickly your little one jets over there. 

As a mom who cares about providing opportunities for nurturing healthy development, I am not going to raise my kids in a bubble wrap-lined sterile container. And I want to feel like the professionals I trust to walk alongside my parenting journey with me support me and want to partner to keep my littles protected together. I don’t want to bring my children to school wondering if they’re one scraped-knee-I-forgot-to-give-a-heads-up-to-the-teacher-about away from my family potentially getting ripped apart or our lives flipped upside down in scrutiny. 

Because my kids aren’t always with me, and something can happen anywhere, I want professionals to recognize signs of abuse and be willing to speak up and get answers if something seems off. But I also don’t want to live in fear of natural and expected occurrences being blown out of proportion or used to frame me as a harmful or negligent mother. Ask questions and have those tough conversations, when appropriate. And remember, accidents and the unexpected do happen. 

So as a mom who simply wants what’s best for her children, my ask for trained professionals is this: 

Get to know me. Get to know my babies. Don’t make assumptions.The more connected we all are, and the community is as a whole, the more we can all look out for one another and be the village for the next generation.