An international study of child abuse reported in the British Medical Journal – Lancet revealed that there is an under reporting of child abuse in developed countries like the United States, Australia, United Kingdom and Canada. While it is difficult to provide an exact figure or percentage, researchers estimate that as few as 1 in 10 cases get reported and are confirmed by social service agencies. There are many reasons for this problem. They include the delicate nature of such reports, the short term effects of the reporting, the long term reports of the reporting, the uncertainty of the potential reporter of abuse, back log of cases in certain social service agencies, and other reasons. You can read more about this study at Most Child Abuse in Developed Nations including the United States Go Unreported.
Most states mandate the reporting of child abuse to the state agency responsible for fielding and investigating such calls. This is especially true for those professionals, caregivers, and educations like doctors, day care personnel, teachers, coaches, and others who have knowledge or a good faith suspicion that a child is being abused. If you suspect that a child is being abused, it makes sense to contact the local and / or state social welfare agency (example – Florida Department of Children and Families) to find out more information as to ways to report abuse and how abuse is defined by state statute, law, and / or ordinance.