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    Guidelines for Action If a Child Tells You About Abuse or Neglect

    Source:  Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services  

    Listen to what the child is telling you.  Do not infer or assume anything. Do not push the child to share more than he/she is willing. The child needs warmth and acceptance, not curiosity or interrogation. it is not necessary for the child to reveal specific or intimate details right away.

    Reassure the child that he/she has done the right thing by telling you. Acknowledge the difficulty of this decision and the personal strength necessary to make this choice. Make it clear that the abuse or neglect is not the child's fault, that he/she is not bad or to blame.

    Keep your own feelings under control. Be calm and non-judgmental. Do not express emotions such as shock, embarrassment, anger or disgust. Do not criticize or belittle the child's family.

    Use the child's own vocabulary.  The child may relate the abuse or neglect to you using family terminology. Do not try to substitute more polite or correct words.

    Do not promise not to tell. Know your limits. This is not a situation you can handle by yourself.

    Tell the truth.  Don't make promises you can't keep, particularly relating to secrecy, court involvement, placement and caseworker decisions.

    Be specific. Let the child know exactly what is going to happen. Tell the child you are going to report the abuse or neglect to Children Services. Be honest; it does not protect the child to hide anything. For example, if the child discloses sexual abuse, explain that the child or the abusing adult/parent may be removed from the home. Help by preparing the child for what lies ahead.

    Assess the child's immediate safety. Is it safe for the child to return home? Is he/she in immediate physical danger?

    Try to help the child regain control. Let the child choose whether to accompany you when the report is made, who else to talk to, etc. Although many of the decisions may seem trivial, they will allow the child some sense of self-determination.

    Report the abuse or neglect to Montgomery County Children Services at 224 - KIDS.