If Your Child May Be Harming Another Child

If you suspect or know that your child has acted inappropriately or hurt another child, it is imperative that you take steps to ensure the safety of others. Knowing that your child has harmed another child is not an easy realization, but there are things you can do to address the behavior quickly.

  • Speak with your child immediately. Let them know that certain behaviors are not acceptable and there will be serious consequences if they continue.
  • Take steps to ensure the safety of other children that may be at risk. If you believe your child has harmed or may harm other children, take precautionary measures to ensure that your child is never alone or unsupervised with other children, including during the evening or overnight hours, after school, or any other time the child may be alone with other children. Take into consideration that your child may interact with other children outside your home, such as at school or in social settings.
  • Reach out to professionals. Children and adolescents who act sexually inappropriately do so for a variety of reasons. Many of these reasons are different than motivations of adult perpetrators. It is important to have your child speak with a professional with experience in the field of juvenile sexual offenders. These professionals can help assess the behavior and determine an appropriate course of treatment. You can talk to someone at your local sexual assault service provider to help locate an appropriate mental health professional.
    • If the child who was harmed is also one of your children or under your care, it is important to let them know that what happened is not their fault and that you will do all you can to keep them safe. Consider having your child speak with a mental health professional to help them talk through their experience in a safe place.
  • Report to authorities. If you know that your child has sexually assaulted or abused another child it is important to report these crimes to the proper authorities, such as Child Protective Services. Reporting agencies vary from state to state. To find out who to report to in your state, visit RAINN’s State Law Database.
    • Show authorities that you are acknowledging the abuse and taking quick and appropriate steps to ensure the well-being and safety of all of those involved. Share what precautions you have taken to protect the children who were harmed, especially if they live in the same residence. Let authorities know if you have reached out to mental health professionals to provide help for the child that was harmed and treatment for the child who caused harm.

Learn more:

To speak with someone who is trained to help, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673). You’ll be connected to a trained staff member from a local sexual assault service provider who can connect you to resources in your area. You can also visitonline.rainn.org to chat online with a RAINN support specialist.

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