How to Deal with Child Abuse in Public Places

Use a calm, soft voice.  Avoid negative remarks or looks.

Negative reactions are likely to increase the parents’ stress or anger and the child’s anxiety.  Talking negatively about the abuse or parent will only further upset the child.

Suggestions to say to the adult to deescalate:

  • “Are they tired?  Do they need a nap?”
  • “My child used to get upset like that all the time.”
  • “Children can wear you out, can’t they?”
  • “My kid behaves just like that sometimes.”
  • “Looks like you are having a rough day.”
  • “Is there anything I can do to help?”

Praise the parent about the child:

  • “What beautiful eyes!”
  • “What a cutie.”
  • “You’re so lucky/blessed.”

Distract the child’s attention by talking to directly to the child at eye level in a supportive and empathetic manner:

  • “Cool shoes, I like your…where did you get it?”
  • “You’re bored and you want to go home.”
  • “Looks like it’s been a long day.”
  • “Boy, you are a trooper.”
  • “What a smile.  Let me see that again.”
  •   Ask something silly.  “Can I borrow your cool shoes?”

If danger is imminent, call 911.

Otherwise call child protection hotline.

Protect child if left alone.

© Copyright 2012 • New Orleans Children’s Advocacy Center
1101 Calhoun St. • New Orleans, LA 70118 • (504) 896-9237 • fax (504) 896-9733