There are several appropriate responses that you should have when you believe a child is abused or facing maltreatment. Always listen and observe the children as it is like putting a jigsaw puzzle as all information should be carefully considered. You should always look out for physical, poor interaction with parents of carers.

Things that may be said by the child: ‘Mummy hit me’ ‘Daddy touched me’ ‘Daddy did this…and told me not to tell anyone or he will hurt me’ ‘my uncle did…’ My aunt pulled my hair’ If you believe that you should suspect maltreatment, ask for explanations from both, child (depending if the child is of developmental stage) as well as parents or carers. Make sure the child is comfortable and doesn’t feel nervous as this might scare the child off and put them off from disclosing any further details but also letting the child know that whatever is mentioned by the child may not be kept confidential. Take the child seriously.

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If you do not take the child seriously this may put the child off from telling you what is really going on at home and he/ she will end up laughing it off. Always remain calm and listen to the child openly. Be supportive, and use simple language that the child will understand, do not teach her/ him new words or sentences as this will only end up pushing the child’s imagination and may even end up stating facts that are just made up. Try not to ask ‘why’ as this will only weaken your case.

Rather, ask appropriate questions such as ‘do you want to talk about the bruise you have on your arm? ’. Reassure the child and tell them that it is not their fault at all and let them know it is ok to feel scared, angry and hurt. Let the child know that you intend to do next. Lastly, do not touch the child without their permission. After this step, record exactly what you observed and heard (from whom and when), secondly, you should write down your opinion, why this should be of concern. At this stage the professional should consider what to do next depending on the level of concern.

You can look for features of maltreatment within the child or young person’s history and appearance also take in to account the interaction and bond between the child and their parents or carers. If you are not sure, you can take this up with a more experienced health care professional’s such as: teachers, nurses, social workers Lastly, using a professional judgement you should conclude your findings to assess the child’s maltreatment If maltreatment is disclosed or reported by a child, you as a professional have to ensure that the child understands the need to discuss this in private.