What to Expect From This Process
It is very difficult to predict what will happen for you and your child after the report has been made and the case is in the legal system. Speaking up about what happened can be a good thing for the child—whether or not the abuser is convicted. Many children are relieved to think that someone more powerful will tell the offender he/she was wrong and help protect them. For other children, however, the events following the report can be scary.
You can make this process easier for your child by working with, and not against, the authorities. The legal system may be able to protect your child from future unsupervised contact with the offender. Working through the legal system is also a way to keep other children safe, because many offenders abuse more kids than those they have actually been caught abusing.
Facts About the Investigation
At times, you may be asked to wait while your child is being questioned. Being left out of some of the proceedings can make you feel as if you are not very important to the process or to your child. Please be assured that you are very important. In fact, you may be the key to understanding what has happened.
It is often preferable that the parents not be present during the interview because more accurate information can be obtained if you are not there. In your presence, your child may be unwilling to tell important details because he/she wants to spare you from hearing them. And sometimes parents can’t control their emotions at what they hear, or they may place pressure on the child to tell in a way that can complicate the legal process.
Oklahoma law requires anyone who has reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused or neglected to report the incident. Failure to report is a misdemeanor offense. If you suspect a child is being abuse or neglected call the Oklahoma Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-522-3511.
Children are most often sexually abused by someone they know and trust.