Do you have questions ?

  • Below are answers to some frequently asked questions.
  • If you have a question and are unable to find an answer on this site, please feel free to contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do if a child indicates he or she has been abused? 

DO NOT
  • Investigate
  • Ask leading questions (a question that suggests the answer or contains the information the questioner is looking for – That man touched you, didn’t he?)
  • Make promises
  • Notify the parents or the caretaker
DO
  • Provide a safe environment (be comforting, welcoming, and a good listener).
  • Tell the child it was not his/her fault
  • Listen carefully
  • Document the child’s exact quotes
  • Be supportive, not judgmental
  • Know your limits
  • Tell the truth and make no promises
  • Ask ONLY four questions
  • 1. What happened?
  • 2. Who did this to you?
  • 3. Where were you when this happened?
  • 4. When did this happen?
  • Asking any additional questions may contaminate a case!
REPORT IT!
  • Call your local law enforcement agency or  Child Protective Services
   
  • (Scroll down for more FAQ's)

Won't talking with children about safe touch give them too much information too soon?

  • Safe Touch presentations are made all across the country in public schools. Giving a child knowledge of personal safety helps them protect themselves. It is a safety program; not a sex education program. Children are taught that private body parts are those areas of the body covered by their bathing suit and that no one should touch or look at those body parts except for reasons of health or cleanliness. The children learn to speak to trusted adults who can help them if a problem arises.
  • The curricula is carefully designed to introduce personal safety information in a manner which is developmentally appropriate for the audience. As responsible, caring adults, we teach our children many kinds of safety. Because of this, children become aware, confident, and secure in the ways that they can protect themselves. Personal safety can, and should, be approached in the same straightforward manner. Fear is not empowering; developmentally appropriate, positive personal safety education is.

Won't everyone find out if I call in a report of suspected child abuse or neglect?

You can report abuse and neglect anonymously. Many State laws requires the protection of the identity of those reporting abuse or neglect allegations.  The name and contact information of all report sources remain confidential.  While child abuse and neglect allegations can be made from persons who wish to remain anonymous, individuals may be encouraged to provide contact information.  Providing your contact information is helpful because it allows the case manager assessing the report to follow up with you to ask additional questions or to seek clarification when more information is needed.

What should I know just in case?

When a child tells an adult that he or she has been sexually abused, the adult may feel uncomfortable and unsure as to what to do or say. The following guidelines may be helpful in responding to children who have disclosed sexual abuse:
  • Practice your response before you are in the real situation.  It is likely that anyone interacting with children will encounter this situation at some point.  It is best to be prepared.
  • Pay attention to your body language.  Be on the same eye level as the child with no physical barriers between you. Find a private place to talk.  Do not panic or used shocked or disbelieving language.  Remain calm. The child may be confused or scared by a reaction of disgust or anger and might interpret this to mean that you find them unacceptable versus the act perpetrated on them.
  • Don’t interrogate or interview the child.  Listen.  Do not project or assume anything. Allow the child to talk in their own words.  Actively listen to the child. Do not try to determine for yourself if the allegations is valid or invalid.  The investigation is the responsibility of the professionals within the child protection system.
  • Let the child know that it was brave to tell.
  • Believe the child and be supportive.
  • Confirm that it is ok to feel however the child is feeling.
  • As soon as possible, write down the actual words used in the disclosure and in your subsequent conversation with the child.  The child’s first statements may have forensic significance and the exact language used in questions and answers may be important.
  • Assess the child’s immediate safety. If the child is in immediate danger, a call to 911 or local law enforcement is warranted.
  • Report the disclosure.  Your call may make the difference in the life of a child.
  • Take care of yourself.  Hearing a disclosure is difficult.  Even when you know that it is the right thing to do, making a report is an emotional task.  Remember to breathe. Use your support system. Ask for help.  Releasing your stress and taking care of yourself is important.

How do I teach my child to be safe?

As responsible, caring adults we teach our children many kinds of safety. Because of this, children become aware, confident and secure in the ways that they can protect themselves.  Personal safety can, and should, be approached in the same straightforward manner.
  • Here are some ideas to help you to feel more comfortable as you talk with your child and establish your family’s rules for personal safety.
  • 1. Talk to your child about personal safety as you talk about other types of safety.
  • “Just like fire safety rules keep you safe around fire, personal safety rules keep you safe around other people.”
  • 2. Repeat simple personal safety guidelines often to reinforce understanding.
  • “Your body belongs to you. You decide who touches you and how you are touched.”
  • The Touching Rule: “No one should touch or look at your private body parts except to keep you clean and healthy” . (As children grow and no longer need hygiene assistance, the “clean” portion may be removed from this rule.)
  • “Your private body parts are the parts of your body covered by your bathing suit or underwear.”
  • If someone breaks the Touching Rule, say “NO”, get away, and tell a grown-up.
  • It is never your fault if someone tries to break the Touching Rule.
  • Never keep secrets about touching.
  • 3. Establish your own set of family rules for personal safety.
  • “You can ride in a car with ___ or ___, but not with anyone else without asking first.”
  • “You can give a high-five or a handshake if you don’t want to give a hug.”
  • “You can say “NO” to anyone who breaks one of our family safety rules.  I will back you up!”
  • Help your child identify the trusted adults in whom they could confide if faced with a problem
  • 4. Play “What If?” games to practice decision making.
  • “What if someone we know really well (give examples such as the babysitter, friend, family member) touches you in a confusing way and asks you to keep it a secret?”
  • “What if you and I get separated at the store?”
  • “What if you are playing (even if it is someplace you aren’t supposed to play) and someone tries to get you in their car?”
  • “What if someone offers you money or something else that you really want to break one of our family rules?”
  • 5. Help your child develop confidence and assertiveness skills.  Have fun together practicing verbal and non-verbal responses.
  • Stand tall, maintain eye contact, use a firm voice.
  • “I don’t want to do that!”
  • “No! Stop! That is not OK!”
  • Get away.
  • Keep telling until you get help.
  • Disscuss personal safety with your child from diapers to college.  This is a lifelongconversation.
  • Keep in mind that over 90% of offenders are not "strangers" to their victim. Children must be taught that safety rules apply to EVERYONE at ALL times.
  • A parent or primary caregiver is the best person for a child to speak with about personal safety.  The same message should be reinforced by others in the family support system. The child’s ability to comprehend and practice safety skills is directly affected by development, age, and maturity.  Tailor the message accordingly.
  • We all have intuition that should be cultivated and paid heed.  Listen to your’s and validate your child’s.
  • Help your child develop an appropriate vocabulary for the parts of their body.  Children who have learned only slang or family terms might be too embarrassed to ask for help or could have a difficult time being clearly understood.
  • Never force your child to hug or kiss anyone.  Giving children control over their bodies reinforces the message that they have the right to determine how, when, and by whom they are touched.  High-fives and handshakes are also safe expressions to show affection and can be an alternative to hugs/kisses.
  • Give your child permission to be ugly and impolite if they are uncomfortable.  Practice yelling from their toes when they need to get the attention of a safe adult.  Do not let fear of rudeness compromise safety.
  • Be aware of your child’s surroundings and those in their world. This includes knowing complete names, addresses, phone numbers, family and acquaintances of anyone with whom they spend time.
  • Reach out to the resources available to you in your community, such as the Child Protection Office for information and support.
  • Remember, communication is key to personal safety.  WHAT IS MENTIONABLE IS MANAGEABLE !