Learn About Abuse

Providing You With Resources About Child Abuse

What is the scope of the problem?

Nationally: Over 5 million children reported as abused or neglected every year in the US.
Statewide: Over 125,000 children in North Carolina.
Locally: Over 4,000 children in Buncombe County alone.


Who is most vulnerable?

1 in 5 children will experience abuse.

Children 6 years and younger make up 50% of cases, and children under 12 account for 75%.

Who are the perpetrators?

90% are known by the child.
75% are relatives of the child.

Cuts across all lines—any ethnic, religious, or socioeconomic group—and knows no boundaries.

Is this really happening in North Carolina?

The Child Health Report Card from Action for Children and the NC Institute of Medicine have, for years, given the state Ds and Fs in child maltreatment, stating that if it were a communicable disease, child abuse and neglect would be declared an epidemic in NC. More recently, they gave a C rating and hopefully that improvement can continue.

Research indicates 1 in every 5 children will be abused. The cost of child abuse is $250 million a day or $94 billion a year in the US, which equates to $1500 a family per year; yet only $1 a family per year is invested in prevention.


Report Abuse

If a child is in immediate danger, call 911
Buncombe County Child Abuse Hotline: (828) 259-5500
Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department: (828) 250-6670
Asheville Police Department: (828) 252-1110
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

Your Role in Protecting Children from Abuse And Neglect:

Child abuse can be prevented, and it starts with you. It exists in every community, regardless of age, race, education, socio-economic status, or culture. In North Carolina, all citizens are required to report suspected child abuse. You do not need proof that abuse or neglect has occurred; you only need reasonable cause to suspect maltreatment. You also do not need anyone’s permission to file a report.

Abuse can be sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or neglect. It happens more often than you think. Five children die every day as a result of abuse and neglect. For a comprehensive explanation of the North Carolina law requiring all citizens to report cases of suspected child abuse, neglect, and dependency, click here.

How to Make A Referral

To make a referral, call your local county Department of Social Services (DSS) where the child lives. For Buncombe County, this number is (828) 259-5500. Share any information you have about the child – name, age, address and parent or caregiver name – and what makes you suspect abuse.

Remember these do’s and don’ts if a child tells you they were abused:

What to Do?

Remain calm

Believe the child

Allow the child to talk

Show interest and concern

Reassure and support the child

Take action and report the abuse

What Not to Do?

Panic or overreact

Press the child to talk

Promise anything you can’t control

Confront the offender

Blame or minimize the child’s feelings

Overwhelm the child with questions.

What Happens After You Make A Referral?

If your referral is accepted for assessment, the county DSS will initiate an assessment within 24 hours for abuse or 72 hours for neglect. The assessment will include a visit to the home and interviews with the child, his or her family and others. DSS will work to protect the child while helping the family address issues that may be contributing to the abusive or neglectful behavior. Families most frequently work with DSS to receive services in the form of counseling, emergency foster care, help with basic needs, parenting classes, and intensive in‑home services.

If You Are Not Satisfied With The Result After You Make A Referral:

If the CPS worker assigned to the case determines there will not be an investigation, you may contact the CPS Supervisor at that location.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome after contacting the CPS Supervisor, you may contact the DSS Director at that site and state your concern.

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome at the local DSS level, call the Child Welfare Policy Consultation Team within the North Carolina Division of Social Services at (919) 527-6340, and Administrative Support staff will direct your call to the next available consultant.

Need Help

If a child is in immediate danger, call 911
Buncombe County Child Abuse Hotline: (828) 259-5500
Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department: (828) 250-6670
Asheville Police Department: (828) 252-1110
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

Signs and Symptoms

For Parents and Caregivers

As a parent or caregiver, you have an opportunity to educate your child about child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, and neglect) and other important topics that directly impact their safety and well-being.

Use the following information to help you to talk with your child about safety at home, in school, and in public spaces. By communicating with your child, you will provide an atmosphere of openness and honesty for years to come.

Adapted from the McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center.

For Children and Teens

You deserve to be safe and healthy!
If you are being abused, tell someone you trust like a parent, teacher, grandparent, or another adult.

Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or can involve neglect. As children and teens, it’s important to be aware of what abuse is and how to stay safe.

No one has the right to hurt you or your body.
No one has the right to look at, touch, or photograph the private parts of your body. No one has the right to touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. If this happens to you: say “no!”, run away to the closest, safe adult and tell that adult what happened.

If this has happened to you in the past, you can still tell an adult. This is important so you can get help and stay safe. Your body belongs to you!

Most of the time, children are abused by a family member or someone they know. If you are being abused, it is not your fault. You are not alone and you can talk to someone who can help you.

If you are in danger, or someone you know is in danger, call 911 now!
Buncombe County Child Abuse Hotline: (828) 259-5500
Buncombe County Sheriff’s Department: (828) 250-6670
Asheville Police Department: (828) 252-1110
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A CHILD (1-800-422-4453)


Please contact us for more information, a brochure, or handouts on a variety of topics including Raising Safe Kids, Tips on Person Safety for Kids, Keeping Kids Safe, Internet Safety, Keeping Kids Safe in Cyberspace, Positive Parenting, Child Abuse and Neglect: What You Should Know, Reporting Child Abuse, and Information for Parents of Children Who Have Experienced Abuse, as well as statistics and frequently asked questions.

Some recommended books include:

Helping Your Child Recover from Sexual Abuse by Caron Adams and Jennifer Fay
When Your Child Has Been Molested: A Parent’s Guide to Healing and Recovery by Kathryn Brohl
Dancing with Daddy by Betsy Peterson
Miss America by Day: Lessons Learned From Ultimate Betrayal and Unconditional Love by Marilyn Van Derbur

Related local agencies include: