Be reassuring! Tell them:
- How brave they are.
- That you are glad they told.
- That you are sorry that this has happened to them.
- They are not alone.
- You WILL help.
- It is NOT their fault.
Give them your undivided attention.
Maintain their privacy.
Stay - do not leave them alone. They need your support, especially if they are disclosing for the first time.
Validate their feelings.
Use simple language - at a time of heightened emotional stress for a child, it is important to keep things a clear as possible.
Allow for silences.
Let them lead the discussion.
Also, remember the limits of your role.
Tell them what will happen next, what you will do - you cannot swear to secrecy, you shoudl inform them that you must tell a Child Protection group.
According to Education, the results of a sample of seventh graders indicate that those who bully and are bullied may be the most likely to experience mistreatment by their parents, including psychological abuse. They may also be the most likely to experience forms of sexual mistreatment by family members. All bullies are more likely, according to this study, to see violence in the home and witness violent acts in their communities.
Story telling is a great and effective medium to communicate with kids, especially about a sensitive subject like abuse that a child might otherwise be uncomfortable or unable to talk about. The following is a link to a story that was shared by our Therapeutic Activities instructor. The Secret of the Silver Horse instructs children that secrets about sexual abuse should not be kept. The story also teaches that if a child tells a teenager or an adult about sexual abuse and that person does nothing, the child should be persistent and tell someone else. It was not only a captivating read for adults but a more than suitable story for kids ages 3 - 10. As students of a Child and Youth Work program we were impressed with this resource and we wanted to share it with others who may benefit from its use. Enjoy.
“Section 72. of the Act states that members of the public, including professionals who work with children, must promptly report any suspicions that a child is or may be in need of protection to a children’s aid society. The Act defines the phrase “child in need of protection” and sets out what must be reported to a children’s aid society. This definition is set out in detail on the following pages. It includes physical, sexual and emotional abuse, neglect, and risk of harm.”
For more info, you can see: http://www.children.gov.on.ca/htdocs/English/documents/topics/childrensaid/Reportingchildabuseandneglect.pdf
Protection: Children have the right to protection from abuse, neglect, exploitation and discrimination. This includes the right to safe places for children to play; constructive child rearing behavior, and acknowledgment of the evolving capacities of children.
Provision: Children have the right to an adequate standard of living, health care, education and services, and to play and recreation. These include a balanced diet, a warm bed to sleep in, and access to schooling.
Participation: Children have the right to participate in communities and have programs and services for themselves. This includes children’s involvement in libraries and community programs, youth voice activities, and involving children as decision-makers.
Economic, social and cultural rights, related to the conditions necessary to meet basic human needs such as food, shelter, education, health care, and gainful employment. Included are rights to education, adequate housing, food, water, the highest attainable standard of health, the right to work and rights at work, as well as the cultural rights of minorities and indigenous peoples.
Environmental, cultural and developmental rights, which are sometimes called “third generation rights,” and including the right to live in safe and healthy environments and that groups of people have the right to cultural, political, and economic development.
Although abuse often goes unnoticed for some time, there are many cues and clues that one could be aware of to help stop it. These cues and clues play an important role in the end of child abuse which is why it is so imperative that we become aware of them. These are just examples of the indicators for the different types of abuse, and are by no means limited to these.
Neglect: doesn’t meet developmental mile stones, does not respond to stimulation, may be demanding for affection from others, assumes parental roles, antisocial behaviors, ect.
Physical Abuse: can’t recall how they became injured, stories about injuries are inconsistent, they may become extremely aggressive, may be dressed in a way that is inappropriate for the climate to hide injuries, afraid to go home, ect.
Sexual Abuse: age-inappropriate sexual play with toys, self or others, reluctance to go somewhere, nightmare/terrors, bed wetting, self-destructive behaviors, ect.
Emotional Abuse: developmental lags, extreme attentions seeking, depression, poor peer relationships, unrealistic goal setting, overly critical, ect.
Neglect: poor hygiene, consistent hunger, abnormal growth patterns (under weight, ect.) no medical or dental care, ect.
Physical Abuse: bruised, welts, burns, cuts, broken bones, concussions, bite marks, broken ribs, ect.
Sexual Abuse: excessive itching or pain in the throat, genitalia or anus, stained or bloody clothing, injury to the chest, genitals or anal region, poor personal hygiene, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, ect.
Emotional Abuse: fails to thrive, lives in poor living conditions, wetting or soiling themselves, psychosomatic complaints (stomach ache, head ache, nausea).
(Rimmer and Prager, 1998).
In their 2001 report on Family Violence in Canada**, The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics found that:
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