How to Report & Respond to Child Abuse

If you have concerns that a child is being abused or neglected by a parent, guardian, or any other adult responsible for that child’s welfare, make a report to the Department of Social Services (DSS) in the county where the child lives.

If you have concerns that the child was abused by a non-caregiver or the abuse is a criminal matter, make a report to the Law Enforcement Agency where the alleged offense occurred.

If a child makes a disclosure, you may need the following information to make a report (DO NOT conduct an in depth interview, this should be done by a trained Forensic Interviewer at a Child Advocacy Center):

  • Who? Names of victims and suspects
  • What? What happened
  • Where? Where did the incident happen
  • When? When did it happen
  • Witnesses? Were there any witnesses

How to respond to a child’s disclosure:

1.) Don’t overreact (including your facial and nonverbal cues)
2.) Listen calmly and openly
3.) Don’t fill in the gaps or ask leading questions (i.e. Did _____ happen?)
4.) Avoid “why” questions
5.) Don’t make broad promises about the future
6.) Be supportive, empathetic, and listen to the child
7.) Tell the child/teen: “I believe you,” “it’s not your fault,” “I’m sorry this happened to you”
8.) Seek help of a professional in child abuse
9.) Make a report

Dorchester County Contacts:

Berkeley County Contacts: