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updated: 11/18/2011 5:48 PM

Kane officials: Please report suspected child sex abuse

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If you witnessed a car crash, a theft or a person get shot, you'd call the police immediately, right?

So why not do the same thing if you suspect or have seen child sexual abuse?

In the wake of the Penn State sex abuse scandal, that's a question being posed by authorities in Kane County.

"People tend to want to call somebody else before they make a report. There's a natural tendency to not want to accept that sexual abuse occurs. There's some type of internal denial about that," said Lori Chassee, director of the Children's Advocacy Center in Geneva, which investigates child abuse complaints.

Chassee said she's had more people pose hypothetical "What do I do if" questions to her since the Penn State scandal came to light weeks ago.

The answer: Call your local police, the CAC at (630) 208-5156 or the Department of Children and Family Services hotline at (800) 252-2873.

"You're reporting your concerns. It is up to the investigating authorities to find out what happened," said Chassee, noting some people don't want to report abuse unless they are absolutely sure it's happening. "If there's some other innocuous situation occurring, we'll figure it out."

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon also has updated information on his website on reporting crimes to police or the CAC.

"We look at this as an opportunity to increase awareness about these types of crimes," he said. "Certainly, if somebody sees something or thinks someone is being physically or sexually abuse, the first step is to call police."

The website contains guidelines for what to do if one suspects child sexual abuse and has links to lists of people who are mandated to report abuse, such as hospital workers, educators, law enforcement, social workers and more.

"We're being asked about who has to report (sexual abuse to police). Most people who are mandated reporters should know what their obligations are. A lot of the general public don't know who a mandated reporter is," McMahon said.

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