What to do if a Child Discloses to You
- Control your emotions and remain calm. Do not show shock, disbelief, anger, etc.
- The resiliancy of a child is largely affected by the response of the initial person they tell. Your response can aid in the child’s recovery or it can be a second victimization.
- Thank the child for telling you.
- Most children do not disclose, so the fact that a child has chosen to disclose to you is a big deal. Affirm them and thank them for sharing this with you.
- Let them know that this is not their fault and that you believe them.
- Explain what you’re going to do next.
- Immediately call law enforcement to make a police report.
- Make promises you cannot keep. For example:
- “You won’t ever have to see him/her again”
- “I promise I won’t tell anyone”
- “You won’t ever have to talk about this again”
- Push the child into giving details of the abuse; your job is to listen to what the child wants to tell, not to investigate
- Ask direct or leading questions as this could be harmful to the investigation
- Discuss what the child has told you with others who are not directly involved with helping the child
- Question the child’s truthfulness. For example:
- “Are you SURE it was so and so…”
- “Are you SURE it wasn’t an accident”
- Confront the alleged abuser. This could harm the investigation as well as put your child in danger.