What to do When a Child Discloses to You about Abuse
When a child chooses to tell you about an incident of sexual abuse, your immediate reaction is key to the child’s safety, well-being and recovery.
Points to remember when listening to a child disclosing about abuse that they have suffered:-
Listening to the Child
- Listen to the child patiently
- Believe the child
- Even if you are shocked don’t panic, or disbelieve the child because the child is counting on you to provide support
- Reassure them that it is NOT their mistake
- Let the child know he/she is safe now
- Recognize their courage to speak about such a difficult issue
- Be a listener and not an investigator
- Do not put words in the child’s mouth
- Do not question the child as to why he/she did not tell earlier
- Be aware of your tone of voice and help the child understand what you are feeling
- Reassure the child that they have done the right thing by telling you and that they are not in trouble
- Do not make promises that you cannot keep like you won’t tell anybody, as you need to tell someone to help the child deal with the abuse
Recording the Information
- Keep information that the child has given you confidential- only those who absolutely need to know should be told
- Record the information as quickly as possible – facts not opinion.
- Sign and date everything you record.
Seeking Professional Help
- Ensure you have the permission of the child before you raise concern with people close to the child
- Call Childline at 1098 for support
- Ensure the child has undergone medical examination immediately after reporting the incident.
Duty to Report
Under POCSO, schools have a duty to report sexual abuse to the nearest police station. The punishment for not reporting is imprisonment for 6 months.
- CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF MISTAKES THE SCHOOL SHOULD NOT MAKE
- Blame the Child
- Ignore an incident that is brought to light by a child or other staff.
- Become panicky and scared and confused.
- Send child back to the person/place where the child is at risk
- Disclose the identity of the child to media or people who are not concerned with the procedure
- Refrain from reporting to the Police.
- Refrain from reaching out to Childline and other support agencies