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.

  • 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