Child sexual abuse/incest
How to report child sexual abuse/incest
The safety of the child should be your first priority.
You have an obligation: when parents and caregivers are unable
or unwilling to protect a child from further abuse, the matter
becomes a child protection concern and in many jurisdictions,
requires statutory intervention.
Child sexual abuse and incest are crimes and should be reported.
Many professionals are now required by law to report child abuse.
Minimizing the devastating effects
of incest/abuse depends on your quick action. If you note any
physical or behavioral signs that suggest
incest or sexual abuse, and/or if a child tells you that he/she
is being or has been sexually abused, contact any of the following:
- child welfare agency
- police department
- social service agency
- mental health centre
- sexual assault center
- transition home
- distress centre
- other community service organization that provides counselling
to children and families
Many of these organizations are listed among the emergency telephone
numbers on or near the first page of your local telephone directory.
Check out our page of resources for a list of hotlines
and web sites for additional suggestions.
When you make a report to a child protection agency, abuse crisis
center, or police department, the person taking the report will
want to know:
- the child's name, address, age, family circumstances and language;
- your reason for suspecting that the child has been sexually
- whether the family and/or perpetrator is aware of the report;
- any other information you consider relevant.
The more information you provide, the greater the chances of
an effective investigation.
After action has been taken to protect the child, it's important
that you continue to be supportive of the child and where appropriate,
of his/her family. Reassure the child that he/she is not to blame
for the abuse. Be sure the child understands you want him/her
to feel safe and happy and that your love is unconditional. A
trusting relationship in which you value the child for his/her
worth can help rebuild his/her self-esteem. Positive, non-judgmental
responses can help ease the trauma of sexual abuse.