Report Suspected Abuse and Neglect
We help and protect people of all ages. Children and adults alike deserve to live in safe environments, and we strive to help both individuals and families in crisis.
Ensuring the safety and well-being of children and at-risk adults requires the involvement of everyone in a community. If you suspect child abuse or neglect, call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437). If you suspect the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older or at-risk adult in Denver, call us at 720-944-4DHS (4347).
We all play a role in keeping children safe. To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437). This hotline is available 24/7. If you see a child in a life-threatening situation, call 911 immediately.
What You Need To Know
What happens when I call the 1-844-CO-4-KIDS hotline?
When you call the Colorado Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline (1-844-CO-4-KIDS or 1-844-264-5437), you’ll be immediately connected to the county where the child you’re worried about lives. You’ll speak with a certified call taker, who will ask you for the child’s name and location, what you’ve observed, who you think may be hurting the child and more. Remember, call -- even if you don’t have all the details. Based on the information you provide and what other callers may have shared about the same family, a group of professionals will review, evaluate, and determine what should be done to help the family.
Can I remain anonymous when I make a report?
Yes, but leaving your name and contact information will allow us to follow up to gather any additional information we may need. Also, if you’re required by law to report concerns (“mandatory reporters”), you may not be able to prove you did so, unless you leave your name and phone number.
When I make a call, is my personal information confidential?
Yes, all calls are kept confidential, and your personal information will not be disclosed to the family mentioned in your report without your consent or a court order.
What are the warning signs of child abuse and neglect?
Abused children or teens may:
- Have unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes, or faded bruises or marks after an absence from school
- Seem frightened of their parents and protest or cry when it’s time to go home
- Report injuries from their parents or adult caregivers
- Abuse animals or pets
- Offer explanations of injuries that don’t make sense
Neglected children or teens may:
- Wear soiled clothing or clothing that is far too small or large and in need of repair
- Be dressed inadequately for the weather
- Be constantly hungry; hoard, steal, or beg for food or come to school with little food
- Appear frequently tired with little energy
- Report caring for younger siblings on a regular basis
- Have poor hygiene, smell of urine or feces, or have dirty or decaying teeth
- Be far too thin or have a bloated stomach (may indicate malnutrition)
- Have untreated medical or dental problems, such as infected sores
- Say no one at home offers care
Abuse or neglect comes in many forms – it’s not just physical. Other types of abuse include emotional, sexual, institutional (occurring in day care or over-24-hour care settings), and child sex trafficking, while neglect can include medical, educational, and emotional neglect. Each has its own set of warning signs. Visit CO4Kids.org to learn more.
What should I look for if I think a child is involved in sex trafficking?
Children or youth involved in sex trafficking may:
- Have money, cell phones, or other items that can’t be explained or accounted for
- Say they’ve participated in a sexual act in exchange for shelter, transportation, drugs, alcohol, money, or other items of value
- Use the internet to post sexually explicit material (e.g., pictures, chats, advertisements, etc.)
- Be accompanied by an overly controlling “friend,” “partner,” or “boss”
Physical or emotional indicators can include:
- Injuries; signs of physical or sexual abuse
- Signs of drug and/or alcohol dependency
- Difficulty sitting or standing; “stomach aches”
- Sexually transmitted infections, especially in youth younger than 14
- Tattoos or scars they’re hesitant to explain
- Increased anxiety or fearfulness
- Increased submissive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts or actions
What if I have questions about depression, suicidal thoughts, or a family crisis?
Call the Colorado Crisis Services hotline at 844-493-8255. You can talk with a trained crisis counselor about anything, including these topics as well as relationship problems, bullying, substance abuse, stress, anxiety, and disabilities.
Get Started »
Report suspected child abuse or neglect by calling 1-844-CO-4-KIDS (1-844-264-5437).
Every year, thousands of older and at-risk adults are victims of abuse, neglect, and exploitation, while others struggle to care for themselves.
What You Need To Know
With the support of community members like you, we help adults age 18 and older stay safe and well by investigating reports of abuse and neglect. We collaborate with the Denver Police Department, Denver City Attorney’s Office, and Denver’s District Attorney’s Office to evaluate and intervene when needed to protect adults in our community.
If you believe someone in Denver is a victim of adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation, call us at 720-944-4DHS (4347).
When should I call?
If you have any concerns about the abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an older adult or an adult with an intellectual or developmental disability, please call 720-944-4DHS (4347). The hotline is available 24/7. Every call is handled with the utmost care and consideration, and the caller’s information is kept confidential. Your call could make a real difference in someone’s life.
What happens after I make a report?
After you make a report, a team of skilled social caseworkers evaluates the information. If your report indicates potential abuse, neglect, or exploitation, a caseworker will collaborate with our partner agencies to investigate and offer help (if the at-risk adult consents to services).
Who is considered an "at-risk" adult?
Adults who are considered "at-risk" can include:
- Adults who are being mistreated or exploited
- Adults with an intellectual or developmental disability (I/DD), acquired brain injury, Alzheimer's, dementia, or neurological or cognitive defect
- Adults with a major mental illness
- Frail or elderly persons who are unable to perform typical activities of daily living
What is considered maltreatment?
In Colorado, mistreatment includes neglect and acts that threaten the health, safety or welfare of an at-risk adult or expose the adult to imminent risk of death or serious injury. Mistreatment includes self-neglect, caregiver neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and exploitation.
What are some warning signs of abuse?
Signs of abuse may include:
- Multiple bruises that are not consistent with a fall
- Black eyes, slap marks, kick marks, grasp marks, or fingertip bruising
- Fractures that are not consistent with a fall
- Evidence of malnutrition or over-feeding
- Administration of inappropriate drugs
- Fear for safety or concern about getting an abuser in trouble
What is considered neglect?
Neglect occurs when an adult’s caretaker fails to provide adequate, timely food, clothing, shelter, psychological care, physical care, medical care, or supervision. It is also considered neglect if the caretaker fails to provide these services with the degree of care that a reasonable person in the same situation would use. Neglect can include:
- Abandonment or isolation
- Not providing proper food and/or fluids
- Failure to provide proper health care
- Lack of personal care
- Inappropriate dress
- Being left to sit in urine/feces
- Absence of mobility aids causing restrictive movement
- Absence of necessary medication or medical equipment
- Improper fitting or damaged dentures
What are signs of financial exploitation?
Exploitation means taking an at-risk adult’s money or other assets against their will or without their knowledge or consent. In other words, it is stealing from the adult. It also means deceiving, harassing, intimidating, or exerting undue influence to get the adult to do something against his or her will.
Examples of financial exploitation may include:
- Stealing cash or credit cards
- Cashing benefits or pension payments without giving them to the beneficiary
- Telling someone something cost more than it did
- Abusing position as appointee or Power of Attorney to withhold money from the at-risk person
- Withholding money so a person is unable to afford necessities
- Persuading or forcing the at-risk adult to transfer money, bank accounts, property, assets, or financial affairs to another person
- Not allowing the at-risk adult to be admitted to residential care because it may impact an inheritance
What is self-neglect?
Self-neglect is the most commonly reported concern regarding at-risk adults. Self-neglect occurs when at-risk adults can’t or don’t care for themselves. The reasons can range from lifestyle choices, the onset of sensory or medical impairments, or a partial or total loss of decision-making capacity as determined by their medical provider.
What is a mandatory reporter and what is required of them?
Colorado legally requires many service professionals to report suspected elder abuse of persons 70 or older. These mandated professionals are also required to report mistreatment of at-risk adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities. In Denver, these reporters must call the Denver Police Department at 720-912-2000 within 24 hours of observing or discovering the abuse or neglect.
See more information on mandatory reporting requirements in Colorado and who qualifies as a mandatory reporter.
Get Started »
If you believe someone is a victim of adult abuse, neglect, or exploitation in Denver, call us at 720-944-4DHS (4347), available 24/7.