Liberty House, a child abuse assessment center in Salem, offers the following tips on how to respond if a child makes a disclosure about being sexually abused:
- Remain calm. Overreacting can frighten the child or prevent the child from telling more.
- Emphasize that the child did the right thing by telling. Say, "I'm glad you told. I'm proud of you."
- Stress that the child is not to blame. Say, "It wasn't your fault," and relay that the child will not be in trouble for telling.
- Do not talk negatively about the suspect in front of your child.
- Try to document your conversation. Write down the entire conversation, capturing the child's exact works as closely as possible.
- Call the Marion-Polk county child abuse hotline immediately at 503-378-6704 or your local law enforcement agency. You do not need proof to make a report.
- Leave the investigating to the authorities. It is important to let the authorities handle any investigation. Don't confront the person you suspect of abusing the child or allow others to do so.
- Keep the child safe from the suspect. Seek legal counsel if necessary. You may need to find out if it is possible to take legal steps to ensure the child only has supervised visits with the person of concern, to determine whether contact can be stopped, or to see whether there is some other legal resource to keep the child safe.
- Do not talk about the abuse to others in front of the child. Talking specifically about the suspected abuse where the child can hear you can be overwhelming for the child and may taint any legal investigations taking place.
- If the child has pain or injury to the genital area, get medical help right away through your child's doctor.
Report Child Abuse
Report child abuse to the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) or a local police department, county sheriff, county juvenile department, or Oregon State Police.
Report suspected child abuse and neglect:
DHS office serving Marion County:
(local dedicated child abuse hotline)
toll free (Main office number)
Hours of operation, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
If someone is being hurt or is in danger right now, call 911 immediately.