DISCLOSURE OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

One of the reasons personal safety is taught to children is to promote disclosure of current or past abuse. Most personal safety programs instruct children to tell a safe adult if anyone touches them inappropriately. However, disclosure is not always obvious, and can be missed by adults. It is important to know how to recognize the signs of a disclosure of sexual abuse.

DID YOU KNOW:
A child may disclose to another safe adult before telling his /her parents.
In some cases, a child will disclose to a teacher or another safe adult before speaking to his/her parent, especially if the offender is someone the parent knows or trusts. Disclosure is often a process rather than a one-time event. While full disclosure happens occasionally, information is typically provided bit by bit or through hints and signs. This process may span hours, weeks, months, or even years. If the process is interrupted, discouraged, or shut down, the sexual abuse may not be fully revealed until adulthood — if at all. Accidental spontaneous disclosures can also occur.
DID YOU KNOW:
A child may deny the abuse after an initial disclosure
A child will sometimes retract or deny abuse after an initial disclosure. The child may not even be aware that what has happened is wrong and may not fully disclose. Adults need to understand that a child will often seem hesitant, confused, uncertain, or agitated during disclosure. Do not disregard a child’s possible disclosure just because it appears vague or inconsistent, fluctuates, or seems unbelievable. An adult has a legal responsibility to report suspicions of abuse, not to investigate the abuse.
Adults have a legal responsibility to report suspicions of abuse, not to investigate the abuse itself. Do not disregard a possible disclosure just because it appears vague, inconsistent, or unbelievable.