Skip to Content

Raise awareness of child abuse

Published on April 28, 2017

Raise awareness of child abuse

Rena Sespene-Hinz, MSW, ACSW, LISW
Social Worker

Child abuse awarenessHave you ever been in a public place and not known what to do when you witnessed a parent beginning to escalate with a child or felt uncomfortable because he/she is yelling at a child? Here are simple steps that you can take in the moment to make a difference in the lives of those around us:

Step 1: Assess yourself. Quickly assess your mood and ask yourself whether you are able to put aside your judgments and fears about perceived differences between yourself and the people you have encountered. Look for a simple, helpful thing you can do to improve and deescalate the situation.

Step 2: Assess the situation. Recognize that the agitation and behavior you are seeing may well be a result of the parent or youth feeling isolated and powerless in that moment. Think about if there might be a simple, empathetic thing you could do or say in that moment to make the environment and situation more comfortable and positive for everyone — actions as simple as:

  • Smile
  • Nod
  • Hold a door open
  • Let them go ahead of you in line
  • Offer to help parents bag groceries

Step 3: Act in the moment. Once you have assessed yourself and the situation, remember that your goal is to do something in that moment that can help diffuse and improve the situation at hand. You are not there to figure out what led to what you are seeing or to worry about what will happen later. What you can do — in that moment — is offer genuine intentional empathy and help.

What do I do if I think someone is abusing a child?


  • Support the child
  • Validate his/her feelings
  • Listen to the child
  • Believe the child
  • Report the suspected abuse

Do not:

  • Investigate
  • Ask leading questions
  • Make promises
  • Notify the parents or caregivers

Ask the following questions:

  • What happened?
  • Who did this to you?
  • Where did this happen?
  • When did this happen?

Other information you may be asked to provide:

  • Your name, phone number and relationship to child.
  • A description of current injuries or neglect conditions.
  • Name and addresses of child, parent and offender.

Report suspected child maltreatment immediately. The person who received the information directly from the child should be the one to report it.

Where do I report?

  • From 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. call:
    • Benton County Human Services, 320-968-5087
    • Morrison County Human Services, 320-632-2951
    • Sherburne County Human Services, 763-765-4000
    • Stearns County Human Services, 320-656-6000
    • Todd County Human Services, 320-732-6447
  • Local law enforcement in your area
  • In case of an emergency, call 911.

Help keep children safe — report suspected maltreatment.


Stand for Kids!

Learn About the "Blue Kids"

In 2010, the Blue Kids Campaign started as a program for April’s Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. Community groups, businesses, and individuals take a “Stand for Kids” by placing the Blue Kids around Minnesota each April.

The Kids represent the thousands of children abused in Minnesota each year. According to the MN Child Maltreatment Report, the Department of Human Services received 78,178 reports of child maltreatment in 2015. 

A program of CentraCare, the Central MN Child Advocacy Center is dedicated to serving children and adolescents in cases where child abuse has been reported by creating a safe, child-centered environment for them to tell their story.

Look out for Blue Kids in our Community!

Health information accessed through is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We strive to present reliable, up-to-date health information on our web site and “For the Health of It” blog. However, this information is not intended for the purpose of diagnosing or prescribing. Please contact your health care provider if you have any concerns or questions about specific content that may affect your health. Log in to MyChart to send a secure message to your provider.

About the Author

Rena Sespene-Hinz, MSW, ACSW, LISW

Rena Sespene-Hinz, MSW, ACSW, LISW
Social Worker

Also by this Author

Share This Post

For the Health of It