If you suspect a child has been a victim of sexual abuse:
• Always report any suspicions of child abuse.
You may save a child from further harm if you report your suspicions. If you have questions or you want to report suspicions of child abuse, call the Massachusetts Department of Children & Families’ (DCF) Child-at-Risk Hotline at 800-792-5200 or your local police department.
• Remain calm and thank the child for telling someone.
The child has undergone a potentially traumatic experience and could be more frightened by your response than the abuse itself. Be sure to thank the child for being honest and courageous enough to tell someone.
• Be sure to acknowledge that it is not the child’s fault.
Child abuse is NEVER the fault of the victim. The child may feel ashamed and embarrassed or feel that they allowed the abuse to happen. Explain to the child that it is not their fault. They are not to blame and they are not in trouble.
• Encourage the child to talk openly.
In abuse situations a child tends not to trust people as easily, because the abuser has violated that trust. But once a child discloses abuse, he or she may feel like a weight is lifted off them. Do not pressure them for answers and let them know you are proud of them for telling.
If you suspect abuse, bring your concerns to the attention of the appropriate authorities:
- Call the DCF Child-at-Risk Hotline at 800-792-5200
or contact your local police department.
- Feel free to contact Children’s Cove at 508-375-0410 for more information.
- Ask for help, get support for yourself, and let your child know you are proud of them for talking to you.