Montana Department of Justice

FAQ

What is child sexual abuse?

Montana Code 45-5-625. Sexual abuse of children defines child sexual abuse Child sexual abuse happens when an adult or another child use a child to become sexually stimulated or gratified. There is more than one type of child sexual abuse:

  • Touching between the perpetrator and the child. Touching may include several body parts, kissing,licking, rubbing, or penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth, and touching with or to the penis.
  • Non-touching sexual abuse happens when a perpetrator becomes sexually stimulated or gratified by exposing his or her body to a child or by looking at a child’s body.

What should I do if a child tells me they have been sexually abused?

It is important to know what to do if a child tells you they have been sexually abused. Here are some simple guidelines:

  • Stay calm, keep your voice tone normal. Try not to show anger, fear, or any other strong feelings.
  • Tell the child you believe them and you are glad they told you.
  • Listen carefully, but do not ask a lot of questions about what happened. It is normal for a child to only tell part of what happened at first.
  • Write down exactly what the child told you as soon as you are able to without writing in front of the child.
  • Tell the child you will find someone who can help.
  • Report exactly what the child tells you as soon as possible by calling the Montana Child Abuse and Neglect hotline 1-866-820-5437. The call is free and the line is open 24 hours a day.
  • Call your local Police Department or Sheriff’s Department to report what the child tells you.
  • Some people are “mandated reporters” and are legally required to call the child abuse hotline if they suspect a child has been abused. Mandated reporters are usually people who have jobs taking care of children in some way. The Montana Code 41-3-201 Reports explains which people are required to report child abuse.

Remember that child sexual abuse is never the child’s fault. People who sexually abuse children may have told the child that no one will believe if they tell or may have told the child that they are to blame for the abuse.

Can I tell if a child is being sexually abused?

Not necessarily. There are some signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse, but some children do not show the signs or have any symptoms of being abused. One thing to look for is any sudden change in a child’s behaviors. Some children may:

  • Begin to sleep less or begin to sleep more.
  • Have bad dreams or nightmares or become afraid of the dark.
  • Change their eating habits.
  • Younger children may regress or start to act younger than they are. For example a potty trained child may suddenly forget their potty training or a child may suddenly begin to baby talk again.
  • Become angry or aggressive even if they are usually calm.
  • Become quiet and try to spend more time alone even if they usually like to talk a lot and be with people.
  • Become frustrated quickly even if they are usually patient and calm.
  • Have new fears about being away from their caregiver or about going certain places.
  • Older children may begin to do worse at school or if they were a poor student they may suddenly begin to study more and want to be at school a lot.

But it is important to know that these signs and symptoms are the same for many childhood traumas or challenges – not only for sexual abuse.

How do the parents or caregivers feel when they find out their child has been sexually abused?

Every parent and caregiver is different and will probably have more than one feeling when they learn their child has been sexually abused. No matter how a parent or caregiver feels, the child may believe that he or she is responsible for the feelings. It is important to reassure the child that the feelings are not their fault. A parent or caregiver may feel:

  • Disbelief – sexual abuse is not supposed to happen to children, so some adults will have a hard time believing the child at first. They may think the child is confused or mixed up about what happened. Disbelief can be a normal reaction, but it is important to know that children rarely make up stories about sexual abuse.
  • Anger – some adults will feel very angry about their child being sexually abused. Anger is a normal reaction, but it is very important to explain to the child that you are not angry at them and that the sexual abuse is not their fault.
  • Sadness – some adults will feel sad, hopeless and helpless when they learn their child has been sexually abused. Sadness is a normal reaction, but it is important to explain to the child that it is not their fault that you are sad.
  • Guilty – some adults will feel guilty that they did not know what was happening to the child and that they failed to keep the child safe from abuse. Guilt is a normal reaction,but it is important to understand that there is no way we can know in advance who may sexually abuse a child and it is important to tell the child it is not their fault that you feel responsible.
  • Numb – some adults will not feel anything when they learn their child has been sexually abused. The news may be quite a shock, and it may be difficult to know what to feel. Not having any feelings can be a normal response, but it is important to tell the child that you will be fine and that your feelings are not their fault.
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Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.

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Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.

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Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.

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Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.

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Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.

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Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.

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Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and lojitsdcal and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.

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Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department dciof Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.

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Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.

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Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.

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Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.

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Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.

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Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.

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Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.

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Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about the Consumer Protection Act. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.

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Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.

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Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.

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Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.

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Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.

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Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.

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Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.

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