What should parents/caregivers do if they suspect abuse?
CALL 911 and report the facts to law enforcement. They will investigate and determine if a crime has been committed.
- Give the child a safe environment in which to talk to you or another trusted adult.
- Encourage the child to talk about the abuse, but be careful to not suggest events that may not have occurred.
- Guard against displaying emotions that would influence the child’s telling of the information. Listen, stay calm, and remain supportive of the child with words and gestures.
- Reassure the child that he or she did nothing wrong.
- Seek assistance for the child from a psychologist or other licensed mental health provider .
- Arrange for a medical examination for the child. Select a medical provider who has experience in examining children and identifying sexual and physical trauma. It may be necessary to explain to the child the difference between a medical examination and the abuse incident.
- Many states require that individuals who know or suspect that a child has been sexually abused must report the abuse to local law enforcement or child protection officials.
- In all 50 states, medical personnel, mental health professionals, teachers, and law enforcement personnel are required by law to report suspected abuse.
- Ask for help- There are a number of organizations focused on providing assistance to families dealing with child abuse.
- American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (312) 554-0166
- NationalCenter for Missing and Exploited Children 24 hour hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST
- Child Help USA (1-800) 4-A-CHILD
- Prevent Child Abuse America (1-800) CHILDREN
- Child Welfare Information Gateway (formerly National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information) (1-800) 394-3366