How to Respond to a Disclosure

How to respond to a disclosure of child abuse or neglect

Child abuse: What to do, how to help

When you suspect or discover that a child or youth has been abused, it’s important that you respond appropriately. Here are some guidelines to help you respond to and report child abuse.

If you suspect or know about child abuse, take action

When violence is suspected or when violence is disclosed, adults have a responsibility to take action.

ACTION 1: Acknowledge the child’s situation and feelings. Carefully listen to what the child says, but do not “interview” the child.

ACTION 2: Comfort the child and ensure that they are safe. Remember that child abuse and neglect are never the child’s fault.

ACTION 3: Take notes and document what the child says and/or what you see, and then take action by immediately reporting the violence to your local child protection authority or the police.

When in doubt, report suspected child abuse.  You do not have to be 100 per cent certain that abuse has occurred. The safety of the child or youth may be at risk. The authorities have the responsibility to determine the facts and evidence, not you.

The person who hears the disclosure or suspects child abuse or neglect must make the report.

Your child protection legislation

Each province and territory has its own child protection legislation that defines the circumstances in which a child is in need of protection.

Further info:

Find your province or territory’s child protection act.