Report Abuse and Neglect
If you suspect a child is a victim of abuse or neglect, report your concerns to Child Protection at the Department of Social Development as soon as possible. You do not need proof. It is not your role to look for evidence or interview the child. In an emergency call the police – 911. The abuse of a child is a serious problem. Everyone has a duty to report a suspicion of child abuse.
The Child Welfare Services assesses all reports of abuse and neglect. If social workers suspect that the security and development of the child could be in danger, they will investigate. Where the matter involves criminal offences, the police will join in the investigation. Criminal offences include sexual abuse, serious physical abuse or physical neglect.
The investigation could involve separate interviews with the person who reported the abuse, the child, the suspected abuser and other family members if necessary.
The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline can provide advice and local referrals. Call (800) 4-A-CHILD or (800) 422-4453.
Responding to a Child Who Tells of Abuse
Some children may decide to talk about abuse with an adult they trust. For example, they may tell a parent, coach, counselor, teacher, or youth group leader. If this happens, it is important to:
- Stay calm
- Listen carefully
- Don’t act shocked or upset
- Don’t blame or be judgmental
Be sure to tell the child that
- You believe him or her
- He or she did the right thing in telling you
- He or she is not to blame for what happened
- You must tell someone who can stop the abuse