Family Forum: Reporting Child Abuse

Wondering what to do after witnessing child abuse.

QUESTION:

 I was visiting my friend and wandered over to her neighbour‘s house where I witnessed the neighbour hitting her granddaughter.

The little girl is two years old and she was trying to bite her grandmother, who told her “no” then hit her on her head four times, then again about four times. Also, the little girl has had a broken arm and bruises on her. She has a lock on the girl’s bedroom door; she locks her up and I have seen the girl at the window as I have driven off.

ANSWER:

The behaviour you describe is abusive and inappropriate and would warrant you making a notification to the Child Abuse Report Line (telephone 131 478).The line is open 24-hours a day, seven days a week and is available for anyone who is concerned about a child or has a reasonable suspicion that a child is being abused or neglected.

The information you provide is confidential and you may do this anonymously. Visit childprotection.sa.gov.au/reporting-child-abuse for more details about making a notification.

Follow the link for more information about what you “as a concerned member of the public” need to include in your report.Reports to the Child Abuse Report Line should be made whenever you notice such behaviour or are concerned.

The sort of treatment that you witnessed can have long-lasting negative emotional or psychological effects and impact on child development.

The panel also recommends that you talk to your friend and encourage her to make a report regarding similar behaviour she has noticed from her neighbour towards the young girl.It is important that information about past treatment and injuries, such as the bruising and broken arm, are included in information provided to the Child Abuse Report Line.

Your description of the child’s behaviour suggests your friend’s neighbour is struggling to manage her granddaughter’s behaviour for which she may need professional support.

Depending on the nature of their relationship, your friend may even be able to talk to her neighbour about these concerns and encourage her to seek support for herself and her grandchild. A range of support could be available including having her and her granddaughter visit her GP, her local Child and Family Health Service or Children’s Centre, through which a range of parenting, child development and paediatric services can be accessed.

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