Oregon law defines physical abuse as an injury to a child that is not accidental. The public plays a key role in reporting suspected child abuse or neglect by reporting to law enforcement or child welfare.

If a child tells you that something has happened to them, tell the child that you believe them and that you are going to contact people who can help. Respect the privacy of the child. Remember, you need only suspect abuse to make a report. Don't display horror, shock, or disapproval of parents, child, or the situation. Don't place blame or make judgments about the parent or child. Believe the child if she/he reports sexual abuse. It is rare for a child to lie about sexual abuse.

People in certain professions are mandatory reporters and, by law, must make a report if they suspect child abuse. Policemen, teachers, doctors, firefighters, paramedics, counselors, ministers are all mandatory reporters.

Even if you are not a mandatory reporter you should call law enforcement or child welfare if you suspect a child is the victim of abuse. If possible report the names and addresses of the child and parent; the child's age; the type and extent of the abuse, as well as any previous evidence of abuse; the explanation given for the abuse; and any other information that will help establish the cause of abuse or identify the abuser.

If you report suspected child abuse your identity can remain confidential to the full extent allowable by law. If court action is initiated, the reporting person may be called as a witness or the court may order that the reporter's name be disclosed. Only people with firsthand knowledge of the child's situation can provide testimony proving that abuse has occurred.