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.

Do Not:

  • 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.

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