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How to Respond to an Abused Child

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It takes a great deal of courage and trust for a child to disclose that s/he is experiencing abuse or neglect. If a child confides in you, use the following guidelines to respond in a helpful and sensitive way.

  • Stay calm and neutral. The child may retract information or stop talking if s/he senses a strong reaction from you.
  • Believe the child and be supportive. Children rarely make up stories about abuse.
  • Listen without interrogating the child or passing judgment. Most children know their abusers and often have conflicted feelings. Let the child tell the story at his/her own pace.
  • Validate the child feelings. Tell the child you are glad s/he told you.
  • Assure the child you care and that the abuse or neglect is not his/her fault.
  • Find out what the child wants from you.