WHAT YOU CAN DO
REPORT suspected abuse and neglect by calling 1-800-800-5556.
Keeping children safe means everyone has an obligation to inform the proper authorities if you suspect any kind of abuse or neglect. Your concern may protect a child from further danger. Say something… you could literally save a life!
When a Child Discloses Abuse
If a child tells you he/she is being abused you should:
- Stay calm; do not express shock, panic or disbelief.
- Find a private place to talk.
- Be a listener not an investigator; Listen and limit questions; Do not conduct any form of interview.
- Tell them you believe them and are glad they told.
- Tell the child it is not their fault. Repeat.
- Do not make promises you can’t keep. (For example, promising you will not tell anyone, as you need to report abuse to authorities.)
- Contact 1-800-800-5556 to REPORT child abuse. You may remain anonymous.
- Do not contact the abuser, regardless of who that person is, leave this to the investigative team.
Parents play an important role in helping children and family members cope with abuse or trauma. Maintain a balanced perspective. Do take your child’s reactions seriously. Don’t think “If we don’t make a big deal, she will forget all about it.” Also, don’t decide that the trauma was so bad that your child will never recover. Have hope that your child will heal and that your family will recover from the event.
How You can help your family recover
You can help your family recover by doing the following:
- Be patient. There is no correct timetable for healing. Some children will recover quickly. Others recover more slowly. Reassure him or her that they do not need to feel guilty or bad about any feelings or thoughts.
- Explain to your child that he or she is not responsible for what happened. Children often blame themselves for events, even those completely out of their control.
- Assure your child that he or she is safe. Talk about the measures you are taking to keep him or her safe.
- Maintain regular home and school routines to support the process of recovery.
- Learn about the common reactions that children have to traumatic events.
- Take time to think about your own experience of your child’s traumatic event and any past traumatic events you may have experienced. Your own trauma history and your feelings about your child’s trauma event will influence how you react.
- Consult a qualified mental health professional. Cherish can help link you with a provider who has experience with child traumatic stress.
Learn more about what you can do
- The National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network – great resources and information: http://www.nctsn.org
- National Children’s Advocacy Center: http://www.nationalcac.org/prevention/about-child-abuse.html
- Stop It Now! – Provides practical information on preventing and responding to abuse and trauma: http://www.stopitnow.org/help-guidance