Department of Education

Child Protection

Protective Behaviours - Skills for Life
Protective Behaviours - Skills for Life

Child Protection

Child ProtectionRecognising Child Abuse ‹ Recognising child abuse

Recognising child abuse

How should I respond if a child discloses abuse?

A disclosure of abuse by a child or young person is motivated by the need for safety, protection, support or information.  Your response can have a great impact on the child or young person's ability to seek further help and recover from possible trauma.

When responding to a disclosure it is in the best interests of the child to:

  • use protective interrupting if their disclosure is in a public situation (for example, during news or a lesson)
  • if necessary, move to a place free of distractions in order to give them your full attention
  • maintain a calm appearance, listen and provide support
  • believe the disclosure – the child or young person may have had to overcome threats from the perpetrator, fear of the consequences of telling or fear of not being believed
  • allow the child or young person to continue talking without prompting them to stop even when you have sufficient information to form a concern or a belief
  • allow them to express their feelings
  • accept that they will disclose in their own way and in their own time – if you are unsure about what the child or young person has said, you can prompt them with “Tell me more about that”
  • do not question or ask them to repeat their story a number of times – this can create the impression that you doubt the disclosure and may also cause inconsistencies in the disclosure
  • even if they ask you, do not tell the child or young person you will keep it secret or make any other promises you can’t keep
  • reassure them that they are not to blame and that they have done the right thing to tell
  • explain what you will do next including who you may need to talk with about their disclosure
  • ensure the child is supported if you need to leave them to talk with others, ask them if there is someone that could be with them while you do this
  • record the disclosure verbatim, if possible, as well as some details of what has prompted the disclosure – this record will form the basis of your child protection report and will be used by the Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS) to carry out an assessment
  • report the abuse as soon as possible.

Refer to Responding to disclosures for detailed information.

Recognising child abuse

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