"I have mixed feelings about filing."
More often, concerns lie in a “gray area” of vague uneasiness, sketchy details or uncertainty about what is actually happening. The decision to file a report regarding child abuse of any kind is almost always complicated by the reporter’s relationship to the child and family. If you are feeling torn about making your concerns known to Child Protective Services or law enforcement, it may be helpful to consider what may happen if this step is not[ital] taken. It can also be useful to consider what additional measures will assure the safety of a child. You might inform other adults and professionals about your concerns, or speak to members of the child’s family so that a plan for safety can begin immediately – regardless of your decision about whether or not to file.
Adults who abuse children rely on our confusion and silence to maintain access to a child.
Someone who abuses will usually do their best to maintain an environment of apparent normalcy in order to avoid suspicions on the part of others. Our silence allows people who sexually abuse to get and maintain access to vulnerable children. Let others know that you cannot be counted upon to be silent. We can all help prevent and stop the sexual abuse of children by speaking up and by learning some simple action steps. What is most important is to begin the conversation. Start somewhere.
It is essential to act.
Prevention can be a series of small steps. However, if you know that a child has been sexually abused, it is essential to take steps to protect that child. You can call your local police department or your local child protective services office. You can also bring the child directly to a therapist or a doctor, both of whom are required to report child abuse.
Four things you can do when you’re not sure:
- Trust your instincts and check in with others. If something is happening to make you feel uneasy try to identify what you are seeing and hearing that makes you uncomfortable. Check in with other adults you trust to see if they may be feeling the same way.
- Learn warning sign behaviors in adults and children that could indicate child sexual abuse. A single warning sign behavior doesn’t necessarily mean much, but a group of these behaviors in a child or in someone you suspect may be abusing, can be concerning.
- Write down your observations. Use our sample journal entry. Look for patterns of behaviors and identify what it is about certain interactions or behaviors that worry you. It’s often helpful to have a written document to refer to when speaking with others.
- Call the Stop It Now! confidential Helpline at 1-888-PREVENT, (Call for available hours). If you’re not clear if the behaviors that concern you are normal, speak with Stop It Now!’s trained staff to help you clarify what you are seeing. No caller ID is used, and we require no identifying information in order to assist you.
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