No parent wants to think about their child being abused in any way, but it’s important for us as adults and caregivers to be aware of the warning signs so we can protect our children from harm. If you believe your child is experiencing abuse, here are three important steps to take.
Step One: document everything
If you suspect your child is experiencing abuse, it’s important to document all of the details that you observe. Write down any relevant conversations that have taken place, as well as the dates and times when incidents occur. Be sure to include specific details such as who was present during the conversation or incident, what actions were taken by each person involved, where it took place etc., so that you can provide accurate information when reporting a possible case of child abuse.
It can be difficult for children to talk about their experiences with adults, especially if they feel embarrassed or ashamed. Make sure you are patient and understanding while speaking with them. Listen carefully to what they have to say without judgment or interruption; this will help create a safe environment in which they can open up about their experiences. Be aware that your child may not even realise that what they’re going through is considered abuse; if this is the case, gently explain why it’s not okay. Seek professional help if you or your child need support, the NSPCC has trained helpline counsellors who can discuss your concerns and offer support.
Step Two: report the suspected abuse
Once you have gathered all of the necessary information and spoken with your child, it’s time to report the suspected abuse so that the proper authorities can investigate further. You have to make sure that you are not worried about any repercussion on yourself as the safety of the child is paramount. If you are concerned about your own safety, you can always seek further advice on how to do this anonymously.
You can do this by calling 111 or contacting your local council social services team (for non-emergency situations). Call 999 if you suspect a child is in immediate danger. The police and the council have a duty to investigate all reports of child abuse, and social services will let you know what further action they intend to take.
Step Three: seek legal advice
In some situations, the abuser may be the other parent or somebody close to the child’s family. It may help to seek legal advice from experienced family solicitors like Cordell and Cordell, who can help you understand what legal steps you can take to safeguard your child from harm.
Abuse of any kind is a terrible thing to experience, and unfortunately, children are not exempt from this. As a parent, it’s hard to imagine that your child may be going through something like this, but it’s important to be aware of the signs and know the steps you can take if you suspect abuse.