How to Respond When You have Concerns that Your Child has been Physically Abused

Ways to help your child:

Report concerning injuries as soon as possible.

You can make a report either to the Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Abuse
Hotline at (855) 503-7233, or to the local law enforcement agency in the town, city, or
county where the injury occurred.

Have your child seen by a medical provider.

Have injuries documented by a reliable third party.

Reliable third parties include: DHS/Child Welfare, law enforcement, emergency room
personnel or a primary care physician.

Keep your own records related to your concerns

The types of information to record might include when and where the injury occurred, any
additional information about the nature of the injury and how the injury occurred.

Seek legal counsel if necessary.

You may need to find out if it is possible to take legal steps to ensure your child only has
supervised visits with the person of concern, to determine whether contact can be stopped
entirely, or to see whether there is some other legal recourse to keep your child safe.

Leave the investigating to the authorities.

It is important to let the authorities handle any investigation. Do not confront the person
you suspect of abusing your child.

Ask your child only neutral questions.

Neutral questions are questions such as “Do you know anyone who has broken the touching
rules?” Avoid asking leading or suggestive questions such as, “Did your uncle touch you?”
and avoid engaging in repeated questioning, like saying, “Who hurt you?” over and over

Be careful about saying, “I promise” to your child.

It is important that your child sees you as a safe and trustworthy person. Even if you make a
promise to your child with the best of intentions, it is not always possible to control what
will happen and whether or not you can keep the promise.

Talk about adult problems only where/when your child cannot hear you.

Talking specifically about the suspected abuse where your child can hear you may taint any
legal investigations taking place and can be overwhelming for your child.

Use only non-physical forms of discipline.

It is best to use natural and logical consequences, the removal of privileges, or time-outs
when disciplining your child.

Ways to help yourself:

Get support for yourself.

Liberty House can provide family support and referrals to other agencies to help both parents and

Stay consistent.

It is important that your and your child’s lives stay as “normal” or consistent as possible. The
exceptions to this are any changes that need to be made to ensure your child’s safety.

Recognize the resiliency in your child.

Children are remarkably resilient.

In fact, children often bounce back quicker from adverse situations
than do adults. If you can recognize the resilience in your child, can provide supportive resources
such as counselling should your child need this, and can continue to keep your child safe, the longterm effects of the abuse are more likely to be greatly reduced.

Contact Liberty House with Questions.

The mission of Liberty House is to provide support to children and caregivers when there are
concerns of abuse. We offer families information about abuse, can help direct families to
appropriate resources for themselves and their children and, especially when a child has current
injuries; which can be documented, may be able to schedule an evaluation of the child.

If you have any additional questions about what to do if you suspect your child has been physically
abused or about resources that are available for you and your family, please contact Liberty House at
(503) 540-0288.

Always stay up-to-date: Sign up for our Newsletter