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501-268-4748
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501-268-4748

How to Respond

How to Respond

If a child discloses something concerning to you, it can be hard to know what to say or how to respond. Your reaction is extremely important, so here are a few tips to help.
  • It is important that you remain calm and accept what the child is saying. Make sure they feel supported and safe.
  • You may feel anger, disgust, frustration, or sadness but it is important to keep those feelings to yourself so you can be fully present for the child. Don’t be afraid of saying the “wrong” thing; the important thing to is listen and respond in a supportive manner.
  • Encourage the child that they have done the right thing by telling an adult and that it is not their fault. Don’t interrupt the child or ask questions until the child is finished.
  • Limit your questions to What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Who did it? And How do you know them?
  • Tell the child that you have to tell someone in order to keep them safe. Contact the Arkansas Child Abuse Hotline at 844-SAVE-A-CHILD
  • Do not interrogate the child or attempt to conduct a full interview/investigation. Report your concerns and let the appropriate agencies investigate.
  • Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  • Having a child disclose abuse can be traumatic for you. Make sure you seek support and take care of yourself.
  • Child Abuse is a complex problem and these are only a few tips on how to respond, for more in-depth information and discussion, take the Darkness to Light-Stewards of Children training and check out the following links:
    1. https://www.childhelp.org/story-resource-center/handling-child-abuse-disclosures/
    2. https://calio.org/images/adolescent-disclosure-sexual-abuse-fact-sheet.pdf