Abusing a child is a heinous crime and often times there are warning signs that abuse is occurring.
Here are some tips on what to do if you suspect a child is a victim of sexual violence or family violence.
One way to address your suspicions is to talk to the child directly. Choose a time and place where the child can feel comfortable.
It’s important to be cognizant of your tone so you do not scare the child and to be direct in your questioning.
Upon asking the child a question, allow the child to speak freely and follow up on what they say. Make sure to reassure the child by reminding them they are not in trouble. Also, avoid any judgment or blame aimed towards the child.
If the information requires you to report the conversation to law enforcement, make sure you explain to the child that you will contact someone who will help. But make sure you are aware of the child’s safety. If you have concerns about the child’s safety, relay that information to the authorities.
After you make a report, continue to be supportive of the child throughout the process if possible.
It is important to know the signs that child abuse may be occurring.
These symptoms can vary from child to child. Often a child may show behavioral signs like shrinking away from physical contact or regressive behavior such as thumb sucking. Physical signs and verbal cues can also indicate abuse.
For additional help, if you suspect a child is being abused in Wayne or Holmes County, contact OneEighty for assistance or call the Wayne County Children’s Advocacy Centers 24-line at 330-466-1159.