This is the resource page for helping children deal with big questions.
Kids have a lot of questions, and sometimes they can be hard for even adults to answer. This page has a collection of information and resources for the kinds of questions you may not have encountered or not know how to deal with.
What to do if a child has revealed or you suspect abuse
Most importantly, no matter how shocking or upsetting the information may be, remain calm and reassure the child that they are not in trouble. Comfort the child, and report it immediately. There are professional counselors and interviewers who know how to get information about abuse without causing additional trauma, and unless you are one of those professionals this is not your job.
For more resources for reporting child abuse in the U.S., please visit this website: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/responding/reporting/how/
What to watch out for
If a child does express discomfort with hugging, tickling, or being touched by a specific person, this is a sign there may be a good reason for this reaction. It is important to open a dialogue that is non-accusatory to give the child the opportunity to disclose more information.
Children can be very intuitive, so it is possible that nothing terrible has happened, but they should still not be made to hug, kiss, or have any kind of undesired physical contact with a person they are not comfortable with. It is also a good idea not to arrange time where the child will be alone with that individual.
If you have opened up a dialogue with the child and they do not volunteer information, asking leading questions or planting ideas of what trauma they could reveal can be both traumatizing to the child and complicate finding out what actually happened, if anything, later on. There are signs to watch for if you are concerned the child has been abused without muddying the waters.
Resource for recognizing signs of abuse: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/whatiscan/
Some of the signs can include:
-unexplained/untreated injuries, bruises
-avoidance of a specific person, or reluctance to go home
Remember, if you have suspicions of abuse or neglect, there are professionals who can help. A counselor or therapist with training in working with children is a great option. Most importantly, report it.