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:
- 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.
- Make certain that your body language is telling the child that you hear and believe him/her.
- Thank the child for having the courage to report 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”.
- Inform the child that you are going to share this information with persons who can help him/her.
- Do not leave the child alone or unattended.
- Immediately report the disclosure of abuse to the authorities or call 911 if the child is in imminent danger.
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. If the abuse involved an incardinated or lay person representing the diocese, please contact the Chancellor at (605) 988-3704.
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.