If a Child Discloses to You

Child Abuse Statistics

Signs of Child Abuse

If A Child Discloses To You

Preparing For A Cac Visit

Helpful Links

 Try to remain calm. Do not express shock, panic or disbelief, as this may cause a child to feel anxious or that they have done something wrong, and they may withhold or withdraw information.

 Find a private place to talk.

 Be a listener, not an investigator. Encourage the child to talk in their language and ask just enough questions to act protectively. Say, “Can you tell me more about that?” Do not conduct any form of interview with the child.

 Believe the child. Children rarely lie about sexual abuse.

 Reassure the child that they have done the right thing by telling you.

 Stress that what has happened is not their fault. Say, “You are not in trouble” and, “If I look or sound upset it is because adults want children to feel safe.”

 Check your tone of voice and help the child make sense of what you are feeling. Say, “I am feeling concerned for you. What can we do right now to help you feel safer?”

 Act protectively. Say, “You know some people do wrong things. It is up to grownups to protect children. Every child has a right to be safe; we have laws in Tennessee to help protect children.”

 Do not make promises you can’t keep (for example, promising you will not tell anyone, as you need to tell someone in order to get help for the child).

 Do not contact the abuser, regardless of who that person is. Leave this to the Department of Children Services and/or the police.

Child Abuse Hotline


Tennessee Code Annotated: §37-1-403. All persons (including doctors, mental health professionals, child care providers, dentists, family members, and friends) must report suspected child abuse or neglect. Failure to report child abuse or neglect is a violation of the law.



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