I've reported my child's abuse, now what?

Dear Stop It Now!
Recently, my son informed me that he had been molested by another family member.  We called and made a report with the local authorities, and they came and got a statement from my son.  I also contacted child protective services to make a report (I was told to do that as well). As of this date nothing has ever been done about it and it has caused several problems for my son. And recently I've been informed that this individual has moved in with his own adult son who has 2 young children.

Dear Concerned Parent,
I am so sorry to hear that you have not received a response from the authorities and system regarding your son’s disclosure. If you haven’t done so, I absolutely would contact both the local authorities and the child protective agency you initially contacted and ask for a status of their investigation, as well as information regarding next steps and action plans. When you contact the child protection agency, you should absolutely feel free to ask to speak with the supervisor if you feel you are not getting an adequate or informed answer.

Some of the questions you may want to ask:
•    Was the report screened in for investigation?
•    If not, why?
•    If so, who was assigned the investigative activities?
•    What was the result of the investigation?
•    Can you have a copy of the report?
•    Was the abuse substantiatedi?
•    If it was substantiatedi, what was the agency’s follow up and who is responsible for ensuring that the follow up activities proceeded (was a casework assigned?

You can also inquire about their overall protocol regarding how they handle reports of abuse:
•    What is their policy regarding turnaround time when a report is first made
•    If the report is screened in for investigation, what is the turnaround time required for the investigation?
•    Do they notify the parents of the outcome, regardless of what it is?
•    How can an adult making a report of abuse find out the overall status of the report?

While you are talking with these folks, you could also then bring up your concern that the adult that had been reported as abusing your son is now living with children and ask how they will address this.

If you feel that the child protection agency has mismanaged a report or case, you can contact your state’s liaison officer for child abuse and neglecti, whose role is to investigate concerns that the child protection agency did not adequately respond to child protective issues. To find your local state liaison officer, please refer to the list put out by the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Have you thought about consulting with an attorney as well? An attorney experienced in child protective laws may be able to further advise you on how to proceed. For help in finding a lawyer and to access additional legal resources, please see our Legal Advocacy information from our website.

While the system’s response (or lack of) is incredibly frustrating, I do want to encourage you to not wait for resources from the child protective agency, but rather seek out treatment for your son now. If he is not already working with a child therapist who specializes in sexual abuse, this may be an invaluable source of support and healing. For help in locating a therapist, please talk with your pediatrician, insurance carrier and see our resources for specialized treatment.

Also, have you been in touch with your local Children’s Advocacy Center. These folks work with professionals in all areas of child centered care and work with children who have disclosed that they have been abused.

I am wondering whether your son still has any exposure to the adult who abused him. Developing a safety plan for your family, that specifically details how he will be supervised when he is in any at-risk situation is crucial. Any opportunities to assure your son that he is safe, that he will be kept safe and that there are trusted adults in his life who will do their very best to keep him safe and to turn to when he has situations that are scary should be kept on the front burner.

And finally, I am wondering if anyone has spoken directly to the adult who has abused your son. While this may seem to be an extreme idea, we know that when protective adults talk to an adult who is at risk to abuse or has abused, there is an opportunity for a conversation that includes a non-confrontational approach that talks about how you feel as a parent of a child who has been abused, what your child needs to heal and what safety plans does he have in place to make sure he acts safely. If you are able to have someone with you to have this conversation, feel that you can stay calm (even though it is perfectly understandable how furious you have a right to be), and you can focus on how to make sure that children are kept safe, it's possible this person will recognize the responsibility he has towards keeping children safe. Our guidebook, Let's Talk can help you think about this option. Please know that it is absolutely ok if you should chose not to have this conversation.

You and your family absolutely deserve to find out what is being done with your report. Your son deserves to feel safe. Healing and recovery is possible, and I hope that this response helps you get the information and resources to help your family begin the healing process.

Take care,
Stop It Now!
 

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Last edited on: August 1st, 2012