For Communities

Suspect Child Abuse?

 

HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Community professionals who are faced with a child abuse situation are required to report it to the authorities.*

RECOGNIZING SIGNS OF CHILD ABUSE

Children may display physical or emotional signs of child abuse. This includes unexplained physical injuries like bruises, burns, teeth marks, fractures or sprains and/or changes in behaviour like being wary of adults, extreme behavioural reactions, aggression or withdrawal, decline in school performance, trouble concentrating, or sexual knowledge beyond their development.

BE AWARE OF YOUR INITIAL REACTION

A child may come to a community professional because they believe they can help. It is common for the community professional to feel panic, fear, embarrassment, hopelessness, disbelief, anger, sadness or confusion, however, if you appear overwhelmed by the child he or she may discontinue the conversation.

DO NOT PROBE FOR ANY DETAILS

Allow the child to do most of the talking through an uninterrupted free narrative. Keep questions and involvement to a minimum as asking a child questions could be considered ‘leading’ and tampering in an investigation.

DOCUMENT ANY COMMENTS VERBATIM

This includes those made by the child, parent, caregiver, or anyone else relevant to the situation.

IF DISCLOSURE IS MADE, NO FURTHER QUESTIONS SHOULD BE ASKED

This is the time to contact:

Social Services Response Team (SSRT) anonymously at 403-297-2995.

If outside Calgary call 800-387-5437 (KIDS).

*Section 3 (I) of the Child Welfare Act states that: “ANY PERSON who has reasonable and probable grounds to believe and believes that a child is in need of protective services shall forthwith report the matter to a director.”

  • The duty to report child abuse overrides any right of confidentiality or privilege a person may claim. The exception is the lawyer-client relationship.
  • When a person makes a report, no action can be taken against them unless their report is made maliciously or without reasonable or probably grounds.
  • Many children who are at risk need adults to recognize their need for assistance.

 

If you suspect your child or someone you know is being abused: 

In Calgary, call

            403-297-2995

            Calgary Region Child & Family Services

Outside Calgary, call

            1-800-387-KIDS (5437)

            Child Abuse Hotline

If you suspect a crime has been committed, call
In Calgary, call

            403-266-1234 -- for non-emergency calls

     9-1-1 -- for emergency

            Calgary Police Services

Outside Calgary, call

            RCMP Detachment in your area or local police service

Under the Alberta Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act, “any person who has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a child is in need of intervention shall forthwith report the matter to a director.”

 

Indicators of Child Abuse

Indicators are signs that a child may have been abused. There is no way to be absolutely certain that a child has been abused by depending on these indicators alone, but they may be clues that something has happened, especially when they come in clusters.

In children:

  • Sudden fear or anxiety in a particular place or with certain people
  • Developmentally regressive behaviours such as bed wetting, baby talk or thumb sucking
  • Behavioural changes such as lying or stealing
  • Changes in school performance
  • Sudden interest in sexuality, advanced knowledge in sex or engaging in sexual play with peers
  • Unexplained bruises or injuries, especially in places of the body children do not normally injure during regular activities
  • Burns or marks on the body which leave a pattern of an object
  • Anxiety, depression, aggression or withdrawal
  • Eating problems or changes in appetite
  • Disruptions in sleep or nightmares 

In youth:

  • Early and advanced sexual activity, including sexual behaviour via texting or the internet
  • Substance mis-use (drugs or alcohol)
  • Self-harming behaviour such as cutting or scratching
  • Disordered eating or sudden changes in appetite (anorexia, bulimia, compulsive eating)
  • Changes in activity, involvement with peers or lack of attention in school
  • Anxiety, depression, aggression or withdrawal
  • Suicidal thoughts, attempts or completion
  • Running away or reluctant to go home
  • Engaging in sexualized behaviours toward younger children or peers
  • Frequent unexplained health problems
  • Unexplained pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections

To learn more about Child Abuse and for information about reporting suspected child abuse, go to www.humanservices.alberta.ca/abuse