What To Do If A Child Discloses To You

When a child tells you that they have been touched inappropriately, some of your first reactions may be outrage, shock, or even disbelief. It is natural for your emotions to be heightened in a situation like such, but it is important that you remain calm and in control of your emotions. In that way, you can take the following steps to ensure that the child is safe and gets the help that they need.

DO:

  • Listen carefully to what the child is saying. When a child discloses abuse, it is your job to make sure the child feels heard. Instead of asking about details or being overly emotional, the best thing you can do at that moment is to give the child your full attention. 

  • Tell the child you believe him/her. If a child is telling you, then that means they trust you. More times than not, children will not tell anyone that they are being abused because they have been told by the abuser that no one will believe them.

  • Tell the child that it's not his/her fault. Children may feel guilty and shame for what has happened to them and need to know that it was never their fault. 

  • Report to law enforcement or child protective services. It's important to report to CPS or law enforcement immediately so that they can take the appropriate steps needed for an investigation. The sooner you report, the better.

DO NOT:

  • Make promises you can't keep. When comforting the child, it's easy to say things that we may not be able to follow through with. For example, saying to the child "I won't tell anyone," can do more harm than good if it cannot be guaranteed. 

  • Ask the child for more details or ask direct questions. It is your job to listen to whatever the child wants to tell you, not to investigate. 

  • Confront the alleged abuser. If you confront the abuser, then it could put the child's safety at risk as well as your own. Also, it could make the investigation process more difficult, so it's best to leave it up to the professionals. 

If you suspect or know a child that is being abused, report it immediately to Randolph County CPS (336-683-8200) or call 911 to be sure that the child receives the help that they need.