Crimes Against Children

Child abuse is when an adult—usually a parent, family member, caretaker, or someone else close to the family—hurts a child or teen, makes that youth feel worthless, has sexual contact with him or her, or does not provide adequate food, care, or shelter. Child abuse can happen to all types of kids and in all types of families.

From time to time, all parents and children have problems, but most parents and adults do not abuse children. There is no single reason why people abuse others. Some adults abuse children because they themselves were abused when they were children. Others just can’t handle their feelings in a healthy way; they might be worried about something, like a problem at work or not having enough money to pay their bills and take it out on their kids. Drinking alcohol or using drugs can also make it hard for some people to control their actions.

No matter what the reason is for the adult’s behavior, it’s important to know that child abuse is never the child’s fault. It may help to understand and recognize that kids may experience one or more of these four kinds of abuse: Physical, Sexual, Emotional and Neglect. The CMPD Crimes Against Children Unit investigates all these.

The responsibility of the Crimes Against Children Unit (CACU) is to prevent juvenile maltreatment, objectively investigate allegations of crimes committed against victim juveniles 15 years old and younger, and hold suspects accountable for their criminal actions based on probable cause. The unit primarily investigates the following crimes involving juvenile victims: (1) child abuse, (2) child neglect, and (3) sex offenses; the unit investigates sex crimes committed by juvenile suspects. The CACU is comprised of the following personnel: one sergeant, a team of detectives, and one investigative technician.

How You CAN Make a Difference:

  • Help a friend, neighbor, or relative if they are having difficulty with their family. Be a nurturing parent!
  • Get involved – advocate for services to help families.
  • Volunteer at a local child abuse prevention program.
  • Help to develop parenting resources at your local library or community center.
  • Ask for help if you need it!

For more information about how to recognize and report child abuse and neglect in North Carolina, visit or This message is brought to you by Mecklenburg County's Child Abuse Awareness Coalition, a group of local agencies partnering to prevent child abuse on behalf of the children of our community.

Victim Resources

  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children - 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)
  • Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina - Crisis Line: 1-800-422-4453
    Office: 1-800-354-5437
  • ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline
    Crisis counselors are available to talk 24 hours / day
    1-800-4-A-CHILD or 1-800-422-4453


Frequently Asked Questions:

(Prepared by the CMPD Police Attorney's Office)
(Note: The following is not intended to be an exhaustive list of issues or answers involving juveniles but is intended to offer some basic information. If you or your family is faced with a matter involving legal issues concerning child custody, child support or related issues, it is advisable to consult the advice of an attorney.)

Child Abuse & Neglect

Question - How does North Carolina law define "child abuse"?
Answer -
An abused child is one under the age of 18 whose parent, guardian, custodian or caretaker:

  • Inflicts or allows another to inflict serious physical injury to the child. (not accidental)
  • Creates or allows a substantial risk of physical injury to the child
  • Uses or allows another to use cruel or grossly inappropriate procedures or devices to modify behavior.
  • Commits, permits or encourages the commission of a rape, sex offense, crime against nature, incest, preparation of obscene photos, slides, etc. (Not a complete list.)
  • Creates or allows serious emotional damage;
  • Encourages, directs or approves of delinquent acts involving moral turpitude committed by the child.
  • Child abuse may also be a criminal violation.

Question - How does North Carolina law define child neglect?
Answer -
A neglected juvenile is one who:

  • Does not receive proper care, supervision, or discipline from the juvenile's parent, guardian, custodian, or caretaker; or
  • Who has been abandoned;
  • Who is not provided necessary medical care; or
  • Who lives in an environment injurious to the child's welfare; or
  • Who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of the law.

Question - How and when do I report suspected abuse, neglect or dependency?
Answer -

  • North Carolina law requires every person to report suspected abuse, neglect or dependency.
  • The report is made to the Department of Social Services in the county in which the suspected abuse, neglect or dependency occurred.
  • The report may be made by telephone, in writing or orally.
  • The reporting person may remain anonymous and the reporting person has immunity for making the report.
  • Within 5 days of receiving the report, the Department of Social Services must give written notice to the reporting person regarding the status of the investigation.



Custody Issues

Question - What constitutes "child abduction" in North Carolina?
Answer -
North Carolina law states that it is a Class F felony for a person:

  • Without legal justification or defense,
  • To abducts or induce,
  • Any minor child who is at least four years younger than the person,
  • To leave any person, agency, or institution lawfully entitled to the child's custody, placement, or care.
  • This does not apply to any public officer or employee in the performance of his or her duty.

Question - Is it a crime to take a child out of state if a custody order is in place?
Answer -
Yes. North Carolina law states that it is a Class I felony if:

  • A federal or state court has awarded custody of a child under age 16, and,
  • A person with the intent to violate that court order,
  • Takes or transports or causes to be taken or transported,
  • Any child from any point within North Carolina for any point outside North Carolina or keeps any such child outside the limits of North Carolina.
  • Evidence that the child is kept outside the limits of the state in violation of the court order for a period in excess of 72 hours is prima facie evidence that he person charged intended to violate the order at the time of the taking.



Obtaining Police Records

Question - Are police reports regarding juveniles' public record?
Answer -
No. North Carolina law states that all law enforcement records and files concerning juveniles are to be withheld from public inspection and therefore, they are not public records. (Publication of pictures of runaway juveniles is permitted with the permission of the parents.)