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Child abuse & neglect

Child abuse is any act that puts a child’s health in serious danger. The abusive act can be physical, mental, or sexual. Physical abuse may cause the child bruises or broken bones. Harmful spoken words can be mental abuse. Sexual abuse includes rape or incest.

Failure to act can also be abuse. This is called neglect. A child who is neglected is one whose basic needs have not been met. Basic needs include things like food and clothing. 

Sometimes, the people who abuse children are the ones that seem most trustworthy. They may be parents, guardians, caregivers, other family members, teachers, coaches, doctors, or pastors.

Signs of child abuse and neglect

Some signs of child abuse include:

  • Repeat injuries, burns, or welts on the child
  • Unusual sexual knowledge or behavior 
  • Unmet medical needs
  • Repeat bad behavior that is extreme, such as fighting, lying, or stealing and
  • Any big change in a child’s behavior.

If you suspect a child is being abused:

  • Call the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) child abuse 24-hour hotline at (800)-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873 or TTY 1-800-358-5117). DCFS is not allowed to share your name; or
  • Call 911 if you believe the child is in danger or harm.

Financial exploitation

As seniors age, some experience a decline in mind and body. They become dependent on others to help and sometimes take over financial matters. Caregivers and others (lawyers, bankers, relatives, friends, etc.) may need to conduct financial business or handle funds to provide care for the senior.

Unfortunately, sometimes a caregiver, relative, helpful neighbor or repairman can become too familiar with a senior’s finances. They begin to take larger and larger amounts of money as the senior becomes more frail. This is especially true for seniors who suffer from mental illness like dementia and those who have suffered a stroke.

Signs of financial exploitation

  • A caregiver seems overly interested in the victim’s financial situation, or a caregiver has no means of support;
  • A caregiver or family member with access to the senior’s money appears to use the funds for themself rather than for the senior, resulting in things like numerous unpaid bills or overdue rent;
  • A senior doesn’t have adequate food, clothing or personal care items when there appears to be enough money to provide them;
  • A senior is greatly overcharged for services such as auto repairs or home maintenance;
  • A senior doesn’t receive services they have already paid;
  • A senior loans large sums with no arrangement for repayment;
  • Relatives or new acquaintances have moved in with a senior;
  • Items continue to be missing on a regular basis from a senior’s home;
  • Suspicious activity on a senior’s credit card accounts;
  • Bank statements and cancelled checks are no longer going to a senior’s home. Mail has been re-directed to a different address;
  • A senior is not aware of or does not understand recently completed financial transactions;
  • Suspicious signatures on checks or other documents belonging to a senior;
  • Unexpectedly low credit scores;
  • Contact from debt collectors regarding unknown debts; and
  • Receiving notice that a payment has been declined.

Hate crimes

A hate crime is when someone is the target of a crime because of gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, culture, religion, or disability. Call 911 or your local police station if you are the victim of a hate crime. The local police must report the hate crime to the Illinois State Police.

The Chicago Police Department’s Civil Rights Unit looks into reports of hate crime in Chicago. The Chicago Commission on Human Relations also provides resources to victims of hate crime in Chicago and can be reached at (312)-744-4874.
 
Call the Cook County Sheriff’s Office hotline to report the hate crime at (773)-674-HELP (4357) if you live in Cook County. Those who call this hotline will receive a direct response from the sheriff’s office. They will help connect callers to sheriff’s detectives and other groups such as legal aid.
 
Anyone in Illinois can call the Illinois Attorney General Hate Crime Report/Civil Rights hotline for help at (877)-581-3692.

Examples of hate crimes

Hate crimes may involve:

  • Assault
  • Bullying
  • Harassment
  • Insults
  • Damage to property 
  • Graffiti

Identity theft

Identity theft is when someone gets your information and uses it without your permission. This often happens when someone’s wallet that includes a driver’s license, credit card, or insurance information is lost or stolen. It can also happen if someone takes your social security number. Identity theft is a crime that can cause issues with your money, credit, and reputation. These issues are not quick fixes. You need time and money to resolve all the problems caused by identity theft. If you think you are a victim of identity theft, take action quickly to stop further damage by the identity thief.

Signs of identify theft

Signs of identity theft include unknown:

  • Charges on a bank statement
  • Criminal charges on a record
  • Bills from a hospital or doctor
  • Calls from debt collectors 
  • Bank or credit card accounts opened 

Actions to take if you think you are a victim of identity theft:

Wage theft

Illinois law says that all workers must be paid their agreed wages. It does not matter if you are paid by hour, salary, piece, or other method. If you work, then you should be paid. However, your agreed upon rate should never fall below minimum wage for every hour worked.

 

Wage theft examples

  • You are paid less than $10.50 per hour in Chicago, or $8.25 outside of Chicago;
  • You are not paid for travel time after work has started;
  • Your employer rounds down your hours when calculating work hours;
  • Long delays in paying wages;
  • You have separated from your current employment, but you have not received your final paycheck;
  • You work more than 40 hours per week and do not receive overtime pay (1.5 times regular pay);
  • You work varying hours of overtime each week, but you are paid a fixed salary regardless of how many hours you work even though you are not an exempt employee;
  • You are not given pay stubs stating your hours and wages;
  • You are an hourly employee who works off the clock;
  • You’ve had money deducted from your paycheck, such as work equipment costs or repair costs;
  • You are not paid for short breaks of 15 minutes or less;
  • You work eight or more hours without a meal break; and
  • You are a tipped employee and your employer counts your tips toward your hourly minimum wage requirement.
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