Why you should report child abuse

Children often need support to get help, and their families may be too ashamed, distressed or not know how to ask for help. It can be difficult reporting child abuse. People often find it easier to ignore it or avoid thinking about the possibility a child may have been abused.

If you don’t report child abuse, the child will be unprotected and the abuse will continue. Remember that:

  • every child has the right to be cared for and protected by adults
  • a child is never to blame for their abuse
  • abuse can affect a child for the rest of their life
  • think about how you’d feel if you don’t act to protect the child
  • if you suspect a child has been abused, it’s better to report it even if you’re not sure, rather than do nothing at all
  • trust your instincts if you think a child is being abused and report the abuse
  • if the offender is a child or teenager, reporting the abuse can help them get support to change their behaviour
  • if you report abuse, the child will always remember that you had the courage to stand up for them and do something to protect them.

Common concerns about reporting child abuse

You know the person who is alleged to have sexually offended and don’t want them getting into trouble with the law
This places you in a difficult situation, but think about what’s more important — protecting the child or protecting the person who is alleged to have sexually offended against a child or young person? The police may talk to them. This isn’t your fault — the person who is alleged to have sexually offended is responsible for their own actions.

You think the family should deal with the situation
Sometimes, the family’s response is to ask the person who is alleged to have sexually offended against a child or young person offender to go and live somewhere else. If you don’t report the abuse, the offender may continue abusing children.

You don’t want to make the situation worse for the family
You may be afraid that reporting abuse will make things worse for the family. It’s important to think about the child who may not have anyone else to protect them, or may be too scared and ashamed to talk about what’s happening.

You may be worried the child will be removed from their family
Caring for children and keeping them safe and well is very important. We work with families to help them protect and care for their children. If we’re worried about a child’s safety, we may arrange for the child to stay with a relative, trusted friend or foster carer while we help parents get support.

You’re not absolutely positive the child is being abused
You don’t have to prove that a child has been abused before reporting abuse. If you’re worried about a child’s safety, we’ll talk to the family about their situation and assess how we can help them care for their child.

You’re worried the family will find out you reported the abuse
Under Queensland’s child protection laws, your identity is kept confidential and can’t be disclosed, even to the child’s family, when you report child abuse. You also can’t be held legally liable if you’re acting honestly and reasonably.

You’re worried about a child from a different cultural background
Child abuse is not acceptable in any culture. If the child identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, we’ll talk to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people or organisations from the child’s community for cultural and family advice. 

You think it’s none of your business and just don’t want to get involved
Trust your instincts, and don’t just hope that someone else will speak up. It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep children safe from abuse.