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.