RECEIVES FIRST E-MAIL CHILD ABUSE CALL
IL, SEPTEMBER 5, 1997 --The Department of Children and Family Services
has initiated its first child abuse investigation to be partly based
on an e-mail message sent to its web site.
An e-mail message about a possible child abuse incident in the Chicago
area was sent by an out-of-state visitor to the Departmentís web
site on August 29, according to Department spokesperson Maudlyne Ihejirika.
Within minutes, a copy of the message was delivered to a DCFS Child
Abuse Hotline worker, who called the reporter back by phone and collected
sufficient information to begin a child abuse investigation. The investigation
is still underway.
was a unique call and we were able to respond quickly," DCFS Director
Jess McDonald said. "However, we strongly discourage the use of
e-mail to report child abuse or neglect. Timeliness and confidentiality
are the two most important reasons why our Hotline should be called
directly. E-mail messages sent during evenings, weekends or holidays
will not likely be read until the next business day. And thereís
always the worry about unauthorized Internet users gaining access to
The DCFS web site now contains new directions cautioning visitors not
to report child abuse or neglect by e-mail. Instead, Illinois visitors
will be asked to call the Hotlineís toll-free number, 1-800-25-ABUSE.
Out-of-state callers should call the Hotline at 217-524-2606.
The DCFS web site (www.state.il.us/dcfs) has welcomed numerous visitors
since its May 1 opening date. Its most popular attraction is a photo
listing of adoptable children. The site also includes child welfare
brochures and newsletters, a phone directory for DCFS offices, and a
variety of information about the stateís child welfare system.
New offerings at the DCFS web site will soon include links to related
child welfare sites on the Internet, several new brochures, plus an
on-line version of the Departmentís popular guide, A Manual for
Mandated Reporters, which details the process of reporting child abuse
and neglect cases in Illinois.
Department serves many audiences and our web site is being redesigned
to meet a diversity of interests," McDonald said. "Students,
foster parents, child care providers, child welfare professionals and
members of the general public should all feel at home here. We are working
hard to make our site a place people will visit for valuable child welfare
information again and again."