Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline begins its fourth year
DENVER (Jan. 22, 2018) — Coloradans made a record breaking 211,554 calls to the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline in 2017, the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) reported today. Launched in January 2015, 1-844-CO-4-KIDS now enters its fourth year as a resource for Coloradans to learn the warning signs and report child abuse, neglect or sex trafficking.
The high number of calls to the Hotline in 2017 marks the end of the third year of a public awareness campaign by the Department to promote the hotline and educate Coloradans on their role in reporting child abuse and neglect. In 2016, the Department reported 206,107 calls to the state Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline.
"If you are worried about a child or teenager in your neighborhood, at your church or in school, don’t hesitate to call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS,” said Minna Castillo-Cohen, director of the Office of Children, Youth and Families at CDHS. “Even if you aren’t sure, making that phone call is one of the best ways you can help a kid in Colorado.”
In 2017—the first year in which calls about child sex trafficking, a form of child abuse, were tracked by the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline—the Department reported 307 potential cases of child sex trafficking.
Child sex trafficking, a statutorily recognized form of child abuse or neglect, is the commercial sexual exploitation of children. In January, CDHS launched a campaign, coinciding with National Human Trafficking Awareness Month, to increase public awareness of the signs of child sex trafficking and encourage reports of possible cases of trafficking. The campaign features online ads, as well as ads on billboards, at bus stops and gas stations along I-70 and 1-25.
“Child sex trafficking can sound far removed from our lives and communities, but we know survivors can be Colorado kids and teens from our own neighborhoods,” said Sara Nadelman, human trafficking specialist at the Colorado Department of Human Services. “Children and teens of any gender, age, race or background can be at risk. Sometimes traffickers identify and groom a child, and in other situations the trafficker is an individual the child knows, such as a parent, caregiver or ‘friend’ they met online. Even if you are unsure, we need everyone who has a concern to call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS to report suspected child abuse. You can help put an end to trauma and ensure survivors receive the treatment and support they need.”
Victims of child sex trafficking may not talk about their experiences, making it important to recognize the signs of child abuse. High-risk indicators a child or teen may already be involved in sex trafficking can include:
- The child or teen has money or other material items, such as a cell phone, they cannot explain;
- The child or teen has tattoos or scars they are hesitant or unable to explain,
- The child or teen experiences “stomach aches,” or difficulty sitting or standing,
- The child or teen posts sexually explicit material or images online,
- The child or teen discusses participation in a sexual act in exchange for shelter, transportation, drugs, alcohol, money or other items of value,
- The child or teen is accompanied by an overly controlling “friend,” “partner” or “boss.”
Other signs and factors that could increase risk include a history of abuse or neglect, identifying as LGBTQ, homelessness with no consistent caregiver and a lack of educational or socioeconomic opportunities.
Visit CO4KIDS.org for more information about additional warning signs of child abuse, neglect and child sex trafficking.
We all play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect. Never hesitate to report suspicious situations by calling 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437). If a child is in immediate danger, dial 911.