Contributed by Representative Julie A. Casimiro

As autumn begins and many families resume busy schedules of learning, work, sports practices and other extra-curricular activities, it is a time of fresh starts and new opportunities.

Kids will try new things, learn new skills and make new friends. They will meet new mentors who will help shape their future.

Now is a good time to remind one and all about the importance of protecting children, in particular reporting suspected cases of abuse or neglect. Under Rhode Island law, each and every one of us is required to report to authorities if we become aware of such abuse.

Adults may be getting to know new children through any of the activities that typically begin in the fall. I’d like to remind everyone in Rhode Island who is involved in children’s activities to remember that it is your job to call the proper authorities if you have reason to believe a child you encounter is suffering from abuse or neglect. Conversely, adults who abuse children may take advantage of new opportunities to seek victims, so this is also a time to pay close attention to the children you know.

Rhode Island’s Department of Children, Youth and Families has a dedicated 24-hour hotline for abuse reports: 1-800-RI CHILD. Reporting can be anonymous. Reportable abuse includes physical, sexual, emotional or medical abuse; physical endangerment, improper ethical guidance, lack of supervision, deprivation of basic needs, educational neglect, emotional conflict or psychological neglect.

Under our state law, you are required to report such abuse or neglect within 24 hours of becoming aware of it. You do not need to be able to provide incontrovertible proof — leave the investigating to the experts who will respond.

If you encounter evidence that abuse or neglect is occurring, do your part and call the hotline immediately. Every child is precious and deserves a safe, supported childhood. Your call could be the catalyst that saves a child from pain and suffering.

Rep. Julie A. Casimiro is a Democrat representing District 31 in North Kingstown and Exeter.

Ken Abrams

Lifestyle Editor Ken Abrams writes about music, the arts and more for What'sUpNewp. He is also a contributor to Providence Monthly, SO RI, Hey Rhody and The Bay magazines.
Ken DJ's "The Kingston Coffeehouse," a roots/folk/rock radio show every Tuesday, 6-9 PM on WRIU 90.3 FM. He is a former educator in the Scituate, RI school system where he taught Social Studies for over 30 years.
Ken is presently on the board of the Rhode Island Folk Festival and Newport Live (formerly Common Fence Music), a non-profit that brings diverse musical acts to the Newport area.