What to Do If Your Child Reports Abuse


It can be very hard for children and young people to reveal abuse. Often they fear there may be consequences. Some delay telling someone about abuse for a long time, while others never tell anyone, even if they want to. Children value being believed and, as the adult they have chosen to tell, it's vital that you act on what you've been told.

Your reaction has a powerful influence on how your child responds. Here are good ways to respond:

  • Stay calm. Staying calm at a time like this will be very difficult for you. Avoid overreacting or expressing shock or outrage. Try not to cry.

  • Listen. Listen carefully to what they tell you. Your child will be scared and may not give you many details. Ask questions like: “Can you tell me more about it?” “What did the person do?” “When did this happen?” or “How many times did this happen?”

  • Comfort your child. Let them know that you love them very much and that they have done nothing wrong. A big hug can work wonders. Tell them you believe them. Praise their courage in telling you. Don’t ask them why they didn’t tell you sooner—that will just make them feel guilty.

  • Don’t threaten or criticize the person who committed the abuse. Although this is a natural response, avoid criticizing the person your child has identified as the abuser. Chances are, your child knows the person well and may even care very much for the person.

  • Take action. Trust your gut and your instincts.

  • Keep your child away from the person involved.

  • If you think your child is physically injured, seek out appropriate medical attention.

  • If you see signs of distress, withdrawal or acting out, consider counseling for your child.

  • Contact the organization where the person is involved. They will want to protect other children.

  • If you are not sure there was abuse, contact Child Protective Services at 1-800-392-3738

If you have questions or concerns about preventing child abuse, call our Association office, or the person at your local branch. If you prefer to talk to a male or female, just ask.

  • ASSOCIATION OFFICE 417-862-8962 EXT. 2130

  • SPRINGFIELD CHILD CARE EXECUTIVE 417-862-8962 EXT. 2132

  • G. PEARSON WARD YMCA 417-862-7456

  • PAT JONES FAMILY YMCA 417-881-1599

  • MONETT AREA YMCA 417-235-8213

  • ROY BLUNT YMCA OF BOLIVAR 417-326-3100

  • OZARK MOUNTAIN FAMILY YMCA 417-337-9622

  • LEBANON FAMILY YMCA 417-588-1177

  • CASSVILLE YMCA 417-846-1535

  • DALLAS COUNTY AREA YMCA 417-345-1116

  • YMCA CAMP WAKONDA 417-491-4206

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