What Should I Do if a Child Tells Me They've Been Abused?
Believe the child
- Believe a child if s/he tells you something. False reporting is a myth - only 3% of children make up claims of abuse. However, children often take back what they say once adults act improperly.
- Remain calm. Assure the child you are listening and what s/he has to say is important.
- Let him/her know that it wasn't his/her fault.
Talk to the child
- Listen. Let the child do the talking.
- You can ask if they are ok - be human.
- Ask open questions - who, what, where?
- Don't conduct an investigation.
- Don't ask leading or suggestive questions. Don't insert the names of an adult you may suspect - let the child do the talking.
- Don't interrupt the child.
- Ask simple questions & use simple language.
- Avoid questions related to time.
- Avoid "why" questions.
Report the abuse
- Call 911 or 1-800-922-5330.
- All investigations are confidential and you can report anonymously
- Collect your facts and write down notes
- When reporting try to have:
- Child's Name
- Age or Date of Birth
- Present Location of Child
- Permanent address
- Caregiver's Name and Address
- Brief description of the allegations
- Let 911 help you - ask them questions if you are confused.
The Child Abuse Report Guide is intended to help by providing you with a guide to reporting abuse or neglect in Kansas. It suggests guidelines for:
- When to report child abuse
- What evidence needs to be noted
- The consequences of failure to report child abuse and neglect
What is the cost of services through Stepping Stones Child Advocacy Center?
There is no cost for services for the victim and their non-offending caregiver.
How should I tell my child that he/she has to talk about this situation with a stranger?
Tell your child that they will be meeting with someone who is a specialist (or you pick a word that will best relate to your child, i.e. an interviewer, helper, etc.) in talking to children about very difficult things. Tell your child that even though they’ve told things to you (or to someone else), it’s important that the information is given to a specialist.
What if my child questions me about what they will have to say?
Tell your child that you don’t know exactly what they will be asked but that you believe in them and know they’ll be honest. Reassure them that the interviewer will make them feel comfortable and that it is their job to talk to kids about difficult things. Tell them you want him/her to answer all the questions the best they can and to tell the truth. Be general in what you tell your child, but give the child permission to talk about what they have disclosed (i.e. “It’s ok to tell the interviewer what you told me happened.”) Do not repeat the details of what they disclosed and don’t ask them any questions; let the professionals do all the asking.
What if my child wants to know why they can’t just tell me?
Tell your child that a special interviewer is needed because you might not know what questions to ask and how to ask them. Assure them that they are not in any trouble and that they are doing what every child should always do: which is to tell someone when another person has done something wrong.
What if my child wants me in the room with them?
Assure your child that while they are talking to the interviewer, you’ll be in the next room talking to someone else and getting information on how to make sure they will stay safe.
What if my child says they don’t want to do this because they already told their story?
Tell your child that you understand their feelings of frustration, especially since it’s a difficult story to tell. But also tell them how brave they were for telling it in the first place and how proud you are of their honesty. Tell them that because they were so brave, they’re going to be helping to keep other children safe by telling their story to the people who are in charge of keeping all children safe.