It can be very difficult for a young person to open up and speak about any abuse or neglect they are experiencing.
However, if they do choose to tell you about these deeply personal and traumatic experiences, it is important you know how to respond so the child feels supported and can ultimately be kept safe.
It can be extremely distressing to hear about a child’s abuse, but here’s some advice on the best way to deal with it and the following steps to take.
Firstly, if a child decides to disclose this type of information to you, it may be comforting to know that they will normally only speak to an adult they really trust, so the chances are you’re already doing something right.
They may wish to share this information with you for a number of reasons, including they realise the abuse is wrong; they are finding it hard to cope; the abuse is getting worse; they want to protect other children; or they would like the abuser to be punished.
It’s important to create a safe space for them to talk, and there are a number of ways you can do this. It’s crucial to be patient, and give them plenty of time to let them say what they need to say.
It’s also vital that you reassure them they have done the right thing by telling you, and let them know it is not their fault that this has happened to them.
It takes a lot of courage for a child to disclose abuse, and they may have been waiting a long time to let someone know. It’s important that you let them know you are taking what they’ve said seriously, and explain what you’re going to do next.
A disclosure should be reported soon after you’ve been told about the abuse so the details are fresh in your mind and action can be taken quickly. It can even be helpful to take notes after you’ve spoken to the child.
You can contact your local social work team, the police or the NSPCC helpline. You may feel anxious or unsure about reporting a disclosure and our experts at the NSPCC helpline are there to help and take that worry from you. Contacting the helpline could be the first step to helping protect that child from a lifetime of abuse and neglect.
Our NSPCC helpline is there for anyone who is worried about a child’s wellbeing or safety, and you can speak to our experts anonymously if you wish.
You can contact the helpline on 0808 800 5000 from Monday to Friday 8am – 10pm and 9am – 6pm at the weekends, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/reporting-abuse/ for more information.
If a child is in immediate danger, it’s always best to call the police on 999 straight away.
For more help on how to respond to a child disclosing abuse, watch: https://bit.ly/2F0wOaB