Sometimes people have worries, a concern or "a funny feeling” that a child is being harmed.
After reading "Signs & Symptoms of Child Abuse" that a child *may be being sexually abused, you may have some different ways to think about how children may “show us” they are being harmed.
If you have reason to think a child is not safe, the list below can help guide your next step. Remember, child sexual abuse is against the law, is harmful to children, and children cannot stop the abuse by themselves.
* Remember that these can be signs of other things and must be explored. Talk with your physician, Health Clinic Provider, Community Health Aide or Behavioral Health Aide for more assistance.
- If a child says they were abused, try to remain calm.
- Reassure the child that what happened was not their fault. Tell them they did the right thing by telling and that you believe them. Tell the child that you will only talk to the adults whose job it is to help keep children safe.
- Report to the professionals who are mandated to investigate. Make a report of suspected abuse to the local Police, or Alaska State Troopers and the local or Regional OCS Office. Call a Child Advocacy Center closest to your community. They can help to sort out what needs to happen next in terms of the investigation. Services at Child Advocacy Centers include a special forensic interview, a comprehensive medical exam, advocacy services, and mental health referrals.
- Know that children can learn to cope and start a healing process after sexual abuse, especially if they are believed and have the support of a caring parent and/or family members.
- Get help for yourself. It is often painful, as a parent or caregiver, to know that your child was sexually abused. It can cause further harm to a child if the abuse is minimized or if the parent has irrational fears related to the abuse. Mental Health Counselors can help parents deal with their own feelings about the abuse so that the parent can protect and support their children.