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If a child makes a disclosure to you...

Report  the


Help your child feel safe to open up.  

  • Stay calm. (Children don’t like to upset their parents. If they see that they are upsetting you, they might not talk about that topic anymore in the future.)

  • Reassure them you won’t be mad at them no matter what they say.

  • Reassure them that it was not their fault and they did nothing wrong.

​​Validate your child’s feelings.

  • Summarize and clarify their statements.

  • Reassure them that you will keep them safe.

  • Don’t deny your child’s feelings. Comments such as, “Don’t cry,” or “Don’t be a baby,” leave children feeling guilty or inadequate for having the feelings they have and resentful for not being understood.

Listen to your child and reassure with positive messages.

  • I’m so glad you told me this…

  • I’m sorry this happened to you…

  • This was not your fault…

  • I’m proud of you for…​

Be honest about the feelings you’re showing.

  • If you’re feeling angry, explain to your child that you are mad at the abuser—not your child.

  • If you’re feeling sad, explain that you are sad because someone hurt the child. But you know that one way to feel better is to talk about your feelings.

Don’t get angry with your child if he/she doesn’t open up.

  • There are many reasons children won’t disclose information. DON’T take it personally! Anger from a parent may cause the child more distress and increase feelings of being unsafe. This can further discourage the child from talking to you when he or she is ready to talk.

Listen to the child. If the child is having trouble finding the words, be patient. Allow the child to tell you what happened in their own words. Don’t interrogate. The child’s statements are the main evidence in a case, so it’s important to not “taint” the evidence by asking leading questions or suggesting what may have happened. Say, “I believe you.” False accusations by children are extremely rare. Be aware of your own feelings. Try to not project these feelings onto the child. Your child has a right to privacy. Try not to discuss the allegations with anyone other than law enforcement or involved investigators. 

Showing your child support and communicating with them can help them to feel stronger and loved.


Ensure the child is not in immediate danger, then report the incident. Use the child’s vocabulary when reporting. Don’t keep it a secret. By reporting abuse, we demonstrate that children are valued and worthy of protection. Reporting abuse helps to stop the cycle of abuse.

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