If a Child Comes to You

If a Child Comes to You...

  • Reassure the child they did the right thing by telling you and they are not to blame.

  • Don't promise them that you won't "tell."

  • Tell the child what you plan to do to help protect them.

  • Talk with the child if they need to vent - be ready to listen and be supportive.

  • Be respectful of the child's need for, or dislike of touching while trying to comfort them…do so with caution and only with the child's permission.

Reporting Disclosures:

  • Your job is to simply report what the child tells you, not to investigate the situation.

  • Attempts to investigate may:

    • Tip off the perpetrator and cause them to flee or destroy evidence

    • Cause a child to retract if they think you don't believe them

  • Mandated Reporters are not required by law to tell the parent/caretaker that a report has been made.

  • However, one should keep in mind that parents/caretakers are not always the perpetrators and may not be aware that their child exhibits signs of abuse.

After Reporting:

  • Consider helping the child get professional counseling.

  • Find a place to help with your feelings too.


Age Factors to Consider:

Preschool Age Children

  • At higher risk for serious injury

  • Stories are generally truthful

  • Don't know abuse is serious…their value of right and wrong is based on family behavior.

School Age and Teen Children

  • More prone to self-report abuse.

  • More aware of "normal" family behavior due to exposure to other families.

  • Tend to be protective of substance abuse parents or caretakers - role reversal.

  • Sexual abuse is often disclosed when family incest interferes with normal teenage relationships.

  • Disclosure of abuse may have a "hidden agenda" such as revenge or anger towards parent or caretaker.