DENVER, Jan. 18, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- The Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437) in 2016 received an increased proportion of its calls from friends, family members, neighbors and other members of the public, a result of the state's focused efforts to broaden awareness and reporting of potential child abuse and neglect.
While the overall number of calls stayed about the same from 2015 to 2016, the percentage of calls from the community made up 40 percent of the total last year, up from 24 percent in 2015. The remainder of calls were made by mandatory reporters: professionals who are required by law in Colorado to report suspected child abuse and neglect.
A balanced ratio of calls between the public and mandatory reporters was one of Colorado Department of Human Services' goals for the hotline when it launched in January 2015.
"The growth in the number of calls from non-mandatory reporters -- family, friends and neighbors -- reflects a welcomed shift in the public's perception of our shared responsibility to help protect kids," said Robert Werthwein, Ph.D., director of the Office of Children, Youth, and Families for CDHS. "We are pleased to see that our communities are increasingly aware that we all play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect."
Additionally, people can report concerns of child sex trafficking to the hotline starting this year. With the passage of House Bill 16-1224, which expanded Colorado's statutory definition of "child abuse or neglect" to include any case in which a child is subjected to human trafficking for sexual servitude, victims will now have better access to services for treatment and recovery, and law enforcement will have greater latitude in responding to reports of child abuse or neglect within a family or involving third parties and as part of a criminal investigation.
"Adding child sex trafficking to the definition of child abuse and neglect and enabling new reporting through the child abuse and neglect hotline will result in both a better understanding of the problem across Colorado and improved access to those kids who have been affected," said Maria Trujillo, human trafficking program manager with the Division of Criminal Justice for the Office for Victims Programs.
Designed to provide one easy-to-remember phone number for individuals to use statewide to report suspected child abuse and neglect, the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline – 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437) serves as a direct, immediate and efficient route to Colorado's 64 counties and two tribal nations, which are responsible for accepting and responding to child abuse and neglect inquiries and reports. All callers are able to speak with a call-taker 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Learn more about the signs of child abuse and neglect, including signs that may be associated with child sex trafficking, and get involved to help the children and young people in your community by visiting co4kids.org. Call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437) to get help.
To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/colorado-child-abuse--neglect-hotline-1-844-co-4-kids-enters-its-third-year-with-significant-changes-300392308.html
SOURCE Colorado Department of Human Services