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Child and Elder Abuse FAQs

child holding handHow can I report child abuse?

Call the Fargo Police Department at 235-4493 or Cass County Social Services Department.

What is molestation?

Molestation occurs when an adult or person significantly older than a child engages in sexual activity with a minor below the age of legal consent. The abuse can be over an extended period of time or a one-time incident that includes touching, fondling, kissing in a sexual manner, oral sex, masturbation,  intercourse, and/or penetration of private parts with objects or body parts.

What type of people are child molesters?

The majority of children are molested by those they know and trust. It may be the stranger, parent, older sibling, teacher or a person having control over the child. It is not enough to warn a child to stay away from strangers.

What are the characteristics of a molester?

  • Can have adult sex partners, but children are primary objects.
  • Have lifestyles which give them easy access to children.
  • May target specific gender, age, hair and eye color. 
  • Use threats to manipulate and control victims or bribe them with gifts, love or promises to lure victims into their confidence before victimization takes place.
  • Often commit their first offense when in their teens.
  • Continue behavior even after conviction and treatment. 
  • May photograph or videotape sexual activity with children to exchange with other molesters and/or to shame a child into not telling anyone of the abuse.

What are some indicators of sexual abuse?

  • Displaying inappropriate sexual activity or showing an unusual interest in sexual matters.
  • Mood swings, withdrawal and depression.
  • Pain, itching, bleeding, discharge or rawness in private areas.
  • Regressive behavior: baby talk, sudden clinging behavior.
  • Sudden, unexplained aggressiveness or rebellion. 
  • Sudden fear of specific things, people, places, etc.

Why didn't my child tell me?

Many children feel guilty, ashamed and that it was their fault. Children often look at their parents as the ones who deal out punishment when they do something wrong. Many parents panic and overreact when they learn of the abuse. Emphasize that the child is not to blame. It was an adult who was at fault and should have known better.

What is elder abuse ?

"Elder physical abuse" is defined as a situation where any person who has the care or custody of, or who stands in a position of trust with an elder, willfully inflicts upon that elder any cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury. Physical abuse includes, but is not limited to, direct beatings, sexual assault, unreasonable physical constraint or prolonged deprivation of food or water.