Department of Child Protection Child Protection: Mandatory Reporting Training Site



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Responding to a child who makes a disclosure of child sexual abuse

How should a mandatory reporter respond when a child makes a disclosure of sexual abuse?
The most important and immediate things a mandatory reporter can do are:

         Maintain a calm appearance

.        Find a quiet place to talk.

         Always believe the child

.        Reassure the child that telling you was the right thing to do.


Be truthful
Children and young people sometimes fear repercussions for themselves or siblings, or consequences for parents or other family members. Because of this, a child might ask an adult to promise secrecy before disclosing. Such a promise should not be made. The mandatory reporter can reassure the child and encourage them to speak out about the abuse.

Let the child or young person take their time
It is important the child or young person does not feel rushed or panicked and that the mandatory reporter has plenty of time to calm and reassure them. Be a supportive listener, however, remember, it is not a counselling session.

Let the child or young person use their own words
Children and young people have their own way of describing their experiences. It is important not to ask questions that suggest the ‘right’ words to a child or young person, or in a way that can be seen as putting words in the child’s mouth. It may be helpful to assist the child by saying "Tell me more about that" rather than asking questions. The investigation of the disclosure should only be done by professional child protection workers or the Western Australia Police.

Let the child or young person know what you will do next
Child abuse often leaves children feeling disempowered and lacking control in their own life. Making sure the child or young person is fully aware of each step can make the process less intimidating and can help return a sense of power and safety.

Do not confront the person believed to be an abuser
Do not confront the person believed to be abusing the child or young person. Confrontation has the potential to place the child, the mandatory reporter or others at risk. Professional child protection workers or the Western Australia Police will take any necessary action.

Make the call
If the child is in immediate need of protection eg the child has disclosed abuse by someone at home and it is coming to the end of the school day, it is very important that the reporter contacts the Mandatory Reporting Service as a matter of urgency.

A written report must follow a verbal report as soon as practicable, preferably within 24 hours.

Mandatory reporters may also call the Mandatory Reporting Service to consult an officer about a concern.

Self-Care
Resources and support services are available to mandatory reporters and allied professionals who may experience personal issues resulting from making a mandatory report. Mandatory reporters should consult their organisation to see what help is available, or check the
Resources page on this website.

When a mandatory reporter forms a belief of child sexual abuse, should they interview the child to get more information?
No. Mandatory reporters may feel as though they do not have all of the information for a report, however, it is important not to interview the child to obtain information.

Specialist child interviewers from the Department of Communities - Child Protection and Family Support and the Western Australia Police will conduct any necessary interviews with a child.

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FAQ   
About mandatory reporting legislation  
Making a mandatory report 
Information provision in a mandatory report  
After a report is made  
Confidentiality issues and mandatory reporting  
Indicators of child sexual abuse  
Training and information for mandatory reporters
Additional resources to implement mandatory reporting
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