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Know the signs

How do I respond

Children may only tell about abuse after they feel safe. In young children, it is more likely to be an accidental disclosure where the child "blurts" something out or the child's behaviors raise concerns. In older children, there is usually a purposeful decision to tell. This may be out of anger, or maybe a feeling of protection for another sibling or friend. Older children often tell their friends about abuse first.

Whatever way you learn about a child's abuse, it is important to know how to respond.

FIVE CRITICAL COMPONENTS ARE:

 1. Believe the Child
 2. Report
 3. Empower
 4. Follow Up
 5. Support

Things you can do to help a child talk

Although a child trusts us enough to tell about abuse and has the courage to want it to change, it is stressful for the child to tell us. Remember — it is NOT your job to investigate the abuse, to interview the child, or to determine the truthfulness of what the child has told you. At the same time there are some things you can do to help a child feel safe disclosing so you can make a report that is helpful to them.

In this short video an Office of Children's Services Social Worker talks about how to respond when a child chooses to disclose to you.

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