At some point in your life, you might encounter someone you suspect of child sex abuse. Sadly, it’s not that much of a long-shot. One-in-four girls and one-in-six boys are sexually abused in the USA. It’s a horrible and relatively common crime.
So, what should you do if you suspect someone of child sex abuse?
Before I answer my own question, let me answer a question you might be asking: Why is a fundraising blog talking about child sex abuse?
Well, April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. To mark the occasion every year, I devote one blog post that will help you protect your loved ones and others from a nightmare crime. Fortunately, we can do something about this national tragedy. First, we need to educate ourselves about the problem. Then, we need to understand what action to take.
Because I’m not a lawyer, a member of law enforcement, a social worker, or a child-welfare worker, I contacted an expert to help me understand what we should do if we ever suspect an individual of child sex abuse.
First, in certain jurisdictions, you may have a legal obligation to report your suspicions if you hold a particular job such as teacher or healthcare professional. Furthermore, your organization might have reporting requirements as part of its employee policies. So, be sure to know the legal and policy obligations that come with your job.
Second, even if you’re not required by law or policy to report suspicions of child sex abuse, you are most definitely morally obligated to do so. Children are largely defenseless. It’s up to adults, any adult, to provide protection when needed.
Unfortunately, protecting children is sometimes easier said than done. For example, you may have a vague gut-feeling that a teacher is up to no good. But, with no evidence or even a concrete suspicion involving a particular child, it’s doubtful the authorities would do anything with a report.
However, if you do suspect that an adult is sexually abusing a particular child, particularly if you have any evidence (e.g., you’ve witnessed the adult taking the child away to a private room), then you need to take immediate action.
When you have a valid suspicion, contact your local police department, local child protective services agency, or your local child advocacy center (an independent social service agency). Or, better yet, contact them all.
Let me be clear, you do not need to have concrete evidence to make a valid report. The professionals will investigate your report and determine appropriate next steps based on their investigation. As long as you have a reasonable suspicion of child sex abuse, report it and let the authorities do their job. The very worst thing you could do is nothing.
For further assistance and advice in the USA, you can contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-800-422-4453. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For information about how to recognize child molesters, checkout my most read blog post of all time:
In addition, I encourage you to read and share an article by the expert staff at the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance wrote “The 10 Tips for Protecting the Children You Love from Sexual Abuse” for Parenting Express Magazine and republished on this site with permission.
I hope you’ll take a few moments to read “The 10 Tips.” Three things, in particular, that you should do are:
- Make your home a “no secrets zone.”
- Respect your child’s personal boundaries.
- Monitor one-on-one situations.
That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?
[Publisher’s Note: This article was scheduled to post automatically. I’m still on a professional leave-of-absence, which you can read about by clicking here. While comments are welcome, they may not be moderated and posted for several weeks. Thank you for your understanding.]