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Protecting Children

Family & Children’s Services of Guelph and Wellington County is also known as your local children’s aid society. Our Initial Intake Team receives calls from the public with concerns about the safety of children and youth in Guelph and Wellington County. Our Family Services workers are responsible for looking into those concerns.

We try to help children and youth remain safely with their families wherever possible and this is where most of our work is done. In some situations they may need to be removed from their homes and are placed temporarily with friends, family, or in foster homes.

For more information on how you can help protect children and youth please refer to the links on the right.

What If a Child Talks To Me About Abuse?

If a child tells you about abuse that she or he is experiencing, be attentive to the child’s behaviour. Remember that a child disclosing abuse may be very cautious and may use childish language or terms unfamiliar to you.

A child may expect you to be aware of the abuse, feeling he/she has been marked in some way that should be obvious to adults. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the physical and behavioural indicators of child abuse and neglect.

If a child tells you about abuse, please do not ask too many questions yourself but call F&CS instead. Any attempt to investigate possible abuse on your own may lead to further harm to the child and may jeopardize the case in a court of law.

If a child tells you she or he is being abused:

Believe in the child
Abuse victims often believe they are, in some way, responsible for the abuse they receive and may be hesitant to discuss the abuse. Your acceptance of what the child says is very important. Recognize that it may be difficult for you to accept the identity of the abuser or that the abuse occurred.

Victims of sexual abuse may feel they are breaking a “trust” or “telling a secret,” or they may have been threatened with harm to themselves or others if they tell. Remember that your relationship has allowed the child to open up to you.

Listen openly and calmly
You may feel angry, frustrated or it may be painful for you to hear a child disclosing abuse. It is very important that you put these feelings aside and give the child your full attention. You can demonstrate your attentiveness with signs such as nodding understandingly.  Allow the child to tell what happened in his/her words. Do not “interview” the child or press the child for details. Where possible take the child aside to a safe, quiet place.

Reassure the child
It is important that you tell the child you will do something to help. Reassure the child that what has happened is not his/her fault, and that he/she is doing the correct thing by telling you.  Do not promise the child things you are unable to provide, such as that the abuser will go to jail or that the child will have a new home. Do tell the child you will do your best to help him/her.

Write down the facts
A written record of what the child has told you is important in the investigation process. If you cannot record the conversation at the time, do so as soon as possible and use the child’s own words avoiding interpreting what was said. Even if you feel a comment or fact is insignificant record it anyway, don’t leave anything out. Report the disclosure by calling F&CS right away.

All individuals have a duty to report child abuse. As soon as possible after a disclosure, please call us. We are here to help 24 hours a day.