RESOURCES FOR PARENTS & CAREGIVERS
Responding to a disclosure of abuse from a child:
- Stay calm. Hearing that the child has been abused can bring up powerful emotions, but if you become upset, angry, or out of control, this will only make it more difficult for the child to disclose.
- Believe the child, and let the child know that he or she is not
to blame for what happened.
- Protect the child by getting him or her away from the abuser
and immediately reporting the abuse to local authorities.
- Get help. In addition to getting medical care to address any physical damage the child may have suffered (including sexually transmitted diseases), it is important that your child have an opportunity to talk with a mental health professional who specializes in child sexual abuse. Non-offending caregivers and family members (siblings) should also get mental health support post-disclosure.
- Reassure the child you will do everything you can to try to
keep them safe.
- Don’t make promises you can’t keep (such as saying you won’t
tell anyone about the abuse).
- Keep your child informed about what will happen next,
particularly with regard to legal actions.
RESOURCES FOR MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS
- Parents/ caregivers who suspect that their child has been abused, often first turn to their primary doctor/ care provider (PCP) for guidance and support. When a physical exam is indicated, there are several options to consider.
- If you feel comfortable conducting the physical exam yourself, then this can be an ideal option for families.
- Should the exam require more specialized expertise and/or evidence collection, the NAC has a Pediatric Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (Pedi SANE Nurse) on site who can conduct a medical exam. This medical exam is not painful or invasive and provides
an opportunity for the child and family to be linked to other important services and resources.
- This exam diagnoses and treats medical conditions that may be related to sexual abuse, reassures the child about their body, documents any possible physical and forensic findings and facilitates collection of evidence that may be present on the child’s body or clothing. In addition, should the case go to trial, the SANE is then available to provide court testimony.
- Though many providers are accustomed to automatically refer these cases to an emergency department setting, this is not always necessary or even optimal. Once a 51A gets filed, these cases are then funneled to a CAC to facilitate a forensic interview, so it
can often make sense for families to initiate care at a CAC
rather than an ER.
- However, should the child require emergent evaluation during times that the SANE is not available and/or treatment of acute injury, you should refer to a hospital setting.
FOR SCHOOLS & YOUTH-SERVING AGENCIES
What can organizations do for child protection?
*Preventing Child Sexual Abuse in Youth Serving Organizations: Getting Started on
- Rigorously screen all employees and volunteers by conducting criminal background, Sex Offender Registry and DCF checks;
- Check references; do a google search and/or social media search
- Limit one-on-one interactions with adults and children by having
at least two adults present with a child at all times;
- Monitor behavior of staff and child to child interactions and potential risk situations;
- Have a clear reporting structure in your organization;
- Inform/educate parents of child abuse reporting policies, encourage them to talk to their kids about their safety, encourage parents to visit the program and make sure parents know who to contact if there are any concerns.
Policies and Procedures, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, CDC, 2007
Creating Policies for Organizations
Policies should clearly define how organizations respond to reports of abuse and should include state regulations on mandated reporting.
Children’s Trust has a Manual for Massachusetts Educators “Designing and Implementing a School Reporting Protocol”
National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers guides and briefs for developing and implementing trauma informed policies for child and family-serving systems. www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/assets/pdfs/
EDUCATION & TRAINING FOR
SCHOOLS AND YOUTH-SERVING AGENCIES
NAC SAIN BROCHURE
SIGNS OF ABUSE
IF YOU ARE THE VICTIM OR WITNESS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE,
PLEASE CALL 911
The Family Violence Unit within the Norfolk District Attorney's Office provides a wide spectrum of services to victims of intimate partner violence and stalking in Norfolk County.
Established in 1978, the unit consists of specialized prosecutors and advocates who work together in a coordinated team approach. Family Violence advocates provide victim services in each of the courts in Norfolk County, including the probate court. Since its creation, the Family Violence Unit has been committed to enhancing victim safety and decreasing the incidents of domestic assault through the rigorous prosecution of offenders and community education.
The Family Violence Unit advocates assist victims with obtaining restraining orders in the district and probate courts and help victims to develop a safety plan for themselves and their children. Advocates will also assist victims in locating community based services such as counseling and shelter. The Family Violence Unit is committed to providing awareness and education to the community in an effort to reduce violence in relationships.
For over 30 years, the Family Violence Unit has been partnering with government and community agencies to assist victims of domestic violence. In 2008, the District Attorney’s Office implemented the High-Risk Assessment program, a collaborative, multi-disciplinary review of serious domestic violence cases. The program formally unites assistant district attorneys, victim witness advocates, district and probate probation officers, battered women’s shelter agencies, social workers, batterer intervention providers, Department of Children and Families (DCF) staff, and law enforcement officers. This team meets monthly to discuss high-risk cases from all towns in the county. The team works together regarding victim safety planning, child protection, offender treatment, and
law enforcement strategies.