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Violence against women

Sexual assault
Learn about rape trauma syndrome, date rape, and the impact of rape on relationships

Domestic violence
Learn why it happens and how to get help.

Child sexual abuse/incest
Learn how to spot child sexual abuse and how to report it.

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
  • hospital
  • 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 abused;
  • whether the family and/or perpetrator is aware of the report; and
  • 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.

Child sexual abuse/incest

Web resources

These are third-party resources and links will open a new browser window. As these are third-party resources, Women's Web claims no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of the information provided.

Little Warriors
Little Warriors is a charitable organization with a national focus that educates adults about how to help prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse. Little Warriors also provides information about the prevalence and frequency of child sexual abuse and information about healing and support resources.

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