Report Sexual Abuse

What does abuse look like?

What to do if a child discloses abuse to you*:

If a child discloses abuse to you, DO NOT ask the child any questions; it is your job to listen, not to investigate.  Instead, you should:

  1. Write down the exact words the child used in the disclosure and during your interactions. The words the child uses are significant, therefore accuracy is very important.
  2. Let your body language tell the child that you hear and believe them.
  3. Thank the child for having the courage to report this to you. The child needs to know that disclosing to you is the right thing to do. Some things to say are “Thank you”, “I Believe you”, “We will get you some help to deal with this”, or “I am going to just listen if you need to talk”.
  4. Inform the child, as soon as possible, of what will happen next with the reporting.
  5. Immediately report the disclosure of abuse to the authorities.

Where to report suspected abuse, neglect, or exploitation

Contact your local law enforcement (or 911 if an emergency), child protection (877) 244-0864, or to the state’s attorney office  for the county the victim resides or is present, and the diocese’s Victims Assistance Coordinator at (800) 700-7867.

Provide the following information when you make your report:

  • The victim’s name, address, date, and place of birth
  • The name and address of the child’s parents, guardian, custodian or responsible persons.
  • Date of the report
  • Suspected or proven instances of abuse or neglect

What happens next

Upon receiving a report, the state’s attorney or law enforcement officer will notify the Department of Social Services (DSS) who will conduct any investigations.  All clergy, employees, and volunteers carrying out ministry on behalf of the Church, who may be familiar with the circumstances of the suspected abuse, is expected to cooperate with any investigation by law enforcement authorities. If the abuse involved an incardinated or lay person representing the diocese, the diocese will take action to remove the person from ministry until the investigation has concluded.


*References: Children’s Inn of South Dakota and SD DSS