Personal SafetyChild Abuse: Helping children who have been sexually abused
Helping children who have been sexually abused
Children will either disclose abuse directly by describing what has occurred or indirectly through behavioural signs and indicators. Discovering or suspecting that a child has been sexually abused can be a distressing experience. Most people feel a range of emo- tions including anger, sadness, shock, disbelief, disgust and helplessness. It is important to stay calm and not convey these feelings to the child as this may prevent the child from making further disclosures.
The child’s feelings about them- selves may be influenced by your initial reaction to the abuse. If the child senses a horrified response, this may reinforce and perpetuate a child’s feelings of guilt and shame.
Understanding Child Sexual Abuse and Responding
Increased recognition of child sexual abuse has led to a dramatic increase in the number of children who have experienced sexual abuse being reported to child protection and the police.
The Department of Human Services is responsible for protective investigations where sexual abuse of a child or young person by a parent or caregiver is suspected and the child or young person is not protected from this abuse.
Professionals working with children are likely to come in contact with children who have experienced sexual abuse. They need to be skilled and prepared to recognise and respond to child sexual abuse and support child victims and their families.
This booklet will help professionals respond to this serious social problem.
You and your child: Guide for parents
This booklet has been written for non-offending parents of children who have been sexually abused.
It is often difficult for a non-offending parent to know how to act when faced with the news that their child has been sexually abused.
REPORTING CHILD ABUSE
For those who are concerned about a child in relation to child abuse or neglect to making a report to child protection services in Victoria.
You are concerned about a child because you have:
- Received a disclosure from a child about abuse or neglect
- Observed indicators of abuse or neglect
- Been made aware of possible harm via your involvement in the community external to your professional role At all times remember to:
- Record your observations
- Follow appropriate protocols
- Consult notes and records
- Consult with appropriate colleagues if necessary
- Consult with other support agencies if necessary
Child abuse is a serious problem. In Victoria, if you suspect a case of child abuse or are mandated to report abuse, then you can contact Child Protection for advice. For immediate help To report concerns that are life threatening call Victoria Police 000. To report concerns about the immedi- ate safety of a child within their family unit, call the Child Protection Crisis Line 13 12 78 (24 hours, 7 days a week, toll free within Victoria) For more information visit Department of Human Services – www.dhs.vic.gov.au
Meeting the needs of children and making sure they are safe in the family is a shared responsibility between individuals, the family, the community and the government. When adults caring for children do not follow through with their responsibilities, are abusive or exploit their positions of power, then it is the child protection system that becomes responsible for taking action.
Who to contact in an emergency
- For concerns that are life threatening, call Victoria Police 000.
- For concerns about the immediate safety of a child after hours or on weekends or public holidays, call the After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service on 131 278 – toll free for all Victoria.
Other emergency contacts
- Statewide CASA Crisis Line after business hours weekdays, weekends and public holidays – Tel: (03) 9344 2210 or Rural Free Call: 1800 806 292.
- Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre – Tel: (03) 9486 9866.
When it is not an emergency
If it is not an emergency, but you are concerned that a child may be harmed from abuse by their parents or caregivers, then you can discuss your concerns with a regional Child Protection worker during office hours.
After Hours Child Protection Emergency Service
Ph: 131 278 (5.00pm – 9.00am Monday – Friday, 24 hours on weekends and public holidays)
CASA Crisis Line
Ph: (03) 9344 2210
Ph: 1800 806 292 – Rural free call
Domestic Violence & Incest Resource Centre
Ph: (03) 9486 9866