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Having a positive healthy relationship is one of the most important things we can do to keep kids safe.

Recently, a worried grandmother contacted Kidpower, convinced her very young granddaughter was being sexually abused, and asking for help. She gave no other information, not even a phone number.

We responded immediately, recommending immediate action she could take. Child abuse is a crime and it takes someone who has the right kind of skills to assess the situation and enough legal authority to do something to help the child.

We share these 3 Essential Actions when Reporting Child Abuse with you so that if ever you or somebody you know is facing a similar situation, they can use these steps as well.

1. Call the National Childhelp Hotline. In the US or Canada, the national Childhelp Hotline provides free anonymous counseling and recommendations for how to get local help. (1-800) 4-A-Child or (1-800) 422-4453. Many other countries have similar hotlines.

2. Call your local child protection authorities. Contact information is usually located in the Social Services or Welfare departments or Child Advocate center of your county or city. Or, call the police or sheriff’s office and ask them who to call.

3. Be factual when reporting. Child protection authorities will listen to you better if you can be as factual as possible about why you believe the abuse is happening. It’s OK to sound upset – but do not vent your feelings when making your report. In order to avoid retaliation and to make it possible for you to stay in the child’s life, you can ask that your report be anonymous.

State as specifically as possible: Who is the person you believe is abusing the child? What have you seen yourself? What has the child told you? What do you think the abuser is doing to keep this a secret? What about other adults around this child?

The overarching goal behind these actions is to have someone from the social services department come and investigate and do some interventions to keep the child safe. Counselors are mandated reporters, which means that they are legally obligated to report suspected child abuse – and having as many reports as possible can help to get the attention of authorities who have the legal power to do something about the situation.

This article, What If A Child Comes To You For Help provides some additional helpful recommendations.

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Published: October 18, 2018   |   Last Updated: October 18, 2018

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.