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New Mexico begins accepting abuse-neglect reports by text

December 29, 2020 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is launching a round-the-clock program to let youths reach state officials by text message to report abuse or neglect, find references or ask questions.

Reach NM uses the text number 505-591-9444 to let Children, Youth & Families Department intake workers offer answers and connect texters with appropriate community resources.

Department Secretary Brian Blalock says the program offers a “one-on-one” connection “to offer support and resources in a way that is natural to our kids.”

The department points to Arizona State University research finding the average child has a cell phone by age 11, and that texting is the most comfortable form of communication for youths. A statement calls New Mexico the first state with a completely text-based system.

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If suspected abuse or neglect is disclosed, a report will be created and investigators can respond based on the severity of the situation. The aim is to provide the same level of support offered through the department’s #SAFE and 855-333-SAFE telephone numbers.

Reach NM texters can remain anonymous, but workers can track calls from the same person over time.

Engagement experts also can use the system to connect those in need with support and services including food banks, or assistance with transportation to and from medical appointments.