This might sound insane, because it is. My 16 year old friend living in Chicago, IL got stabbed by her drug-using brother, and her mother doesn't seem to care. She just woke up in the hospital. She's in a difficult social situation and I was the first person she texted. I can't help anyhow, since I'm a Slovak, 7500km away, and not even an adult. She obviously can't return home to her insane family. She has been on the verge of suicide. I'm trying to help anyhow I can - to prevent her from doing something everyone would regret.

I got a number for a child abuse centre in Illinois (1-800-252-2873), only to get a response, "we can't help you at the moment, we'll get back to you in 2-3 weeks". I feel like suing the US government right now, as a EU citizen.

Anyways, I don't know US law but if there's anyone who does, please help us. What can we do? She will be let out of the hospital in a couple of hours and if we don't figure something out, she'll have to go homeless. Where can I send her? I suppose she'll have to go to court eventually, but meanwhile, is there any shelter for people in her situation where I won't get a response telling me to wait three weeks?

Thank you so much. She is a beautiful person whom I care about and I am, we are, in desperate need of help.

  • 5
    The child can always call the police or ask to talk to a police officer... that's a potential option, especially if the kid was stabbed. That itself is a crime, and the mother could be imprisoned, but I don't know Illinois law (nor am I a lawyer) Nov 27, 2015 at 19:04
  • 1
    Yes, I know - I'm looking for a place she can stay, otherwise she'll go homeless. Anyways, an incredibly kind nurse has offered to let her stay over at her place, thank god for those people. Nov 27, 2015 at 19:10
  • 4
    In most states a child/youth services will arrange residency... in Pennsylvania at least, the police and Children/Youth Services will arrange for the child to be put in the custody of the state if the child is at risk. It may be different in Illinois but the main goal is to protect the child from further harm, and to make sure the child is kept safe. Illinois may have a different process but it stands to reason the state will help the child (and not allow the child to go homeless nor go home if the mother is a risk to the child) Nov 27, 2015 at 19:14
  • 2
    Again I am not a lawyer, but I have done some research into how child abuse is handled in the USA - it's usually not tolerated at all. (worst case the child is put into foster care, is my guess) Nov 27, 2015 at 19:15
  • 6
    (police trump child abuse centers usually :P) Nov 27, 2015 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


Given there was no answer here, I will state what I know about child abuse response, but note I am not a lawyer nor am I in Illinois, so my statements are likely generalized for most US states (individual laws vary by state, and I reside in Pennsylvania).

In most US states, the police and child/youth services (that's what it's called in Pennsylvania but all states have similar services) work side by side and a complaint by the child to a police officer will have an emergency action taken to protect the child. The child is identified as a victim and the police and child/youth services have the obligation to protect the child and to keep them from harm. This is the main goal of police and children/youth services - to keep the child safe and act in the best interest of the child.

Usually, a complaint to a child abuse center can take time to process. When a police complaint comes in it is more immediate, with police having more 'influence' with CYS (child/youth services). Especially when the child is in deadly danger (they were just stabbed, after all), the police may arrest the mother or abusive sibling or intervene therein to remove the child from the parents care with CYS-equivalent services working to find suitable alternative living situations for the child as a result of a order of removal/protection authorized by a judge. (PA at least had emergency situation response plans for these situations where a judge is just a phone call away).

As well, the child will likely be made a ward of the state if the courts determine the mother cannot care for the child or is a threat as such (not caring enough to stop the brother may count), insomuch that the child may be removed from the dangerous situation and placed in the care of a willing relative or if none can be found will be placed in temporary foster care in a safer environment.

Note that nothing happens rapidly without the initial complaint to the police. At age 16 the child is likely going to be taken more seriously (compared to a 12 year old, for example), and has the right to be allowed to reach out to hospital staff to ask to speak to a police officer - otherwise it takes a child abuse complaint from someone who knows the child and situation and that can sometimes take longer to process (though, the distance factor in the original question may make a complaint from overseas given a lower priority due to not knowing the person on a more personal in-person level)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .