How Can I Help? - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

How Can I Help?

What do I do if I think that a child is being abused, but I’m not sure?

Everyone in Alberta has a role and shared responsibility in supporting families to keep children safe and well.

If you have reason to believe a child is being abused or neglected by their parent or guardian, please contact us to discuss your concerns. A child might not come right out and tell you they are being abused, but you might observe signs of neglect or abuse. The child might drop hints or make repeated comments that suggest abuse, or the child’s behaviour may suddenly change so drastically that you know something is wrong.

If you suspect a child is being abused, call 310‑0000 to get the telephone number of your local office or call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1‑800‑387‑KIDS (5437) to speak with a caseworker.

After-Hours Teams are available for Albertans who need child intervention and family support services anywhere in Alberta. The number to call for after-hours response is: 1 800 638 0715. You will be prompted to press 1 if you are calling from Red Deer or south of Red Deer, and to press 2 if you are calling from north of Red Deer.

Fact Sheet

Under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act any person who has “reasonable and probable grounds” to believe that a child is being harmed or in danger of being harmed by their parent or guardian has an obligation to report it to us. This means that if you believe that a child has been abandoned, is being neglected, physically injured, emotionally injured or sexually abused, you need to call us so we can assess the situation. People can be fined under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act for not reporting when a child is in need of intervention services.

What do I do if a child tells me he or she is being abused?


  • remain calm
  • listen carefully to what the child says
  • let the child tell you what happened in his or her own words
  • write down what you heard and saw:
    • as soon as possible,
    • using the same words the child did,
    • using words that describe things you can see or hear, and
    • keeping your notes confidential and secure
  • acknowledge how the child is feeling (e.g. sad, scared, embarrassed, hurt, angry)
  • reassure the child that it is right to tell
  • let the child know that you believe what he or she said
  • say “I will try to help”
  • call your local office or the Child Abuse Hotline as soon as possible

Do not...

  • interrupt the child’s story
  • ask the child too many questions – leave that to the experts
  • overreact by showing anger, shock, disbelief or fear
  • let the child think that the abuse is his or her fault
  • provide opinions or judgments
  • confront the parent(s)
  • promise to keep it a secret, as this is a promise you cannot keep
  • promise the child what the next steps will be

What else can I do?

You can also help by becoming a foster parent, an adoptive parent, or the private guardian of a child.

Call 310‑0000 to obtain the telephone number of your local office or call the Child Abuse Hotline: 1‑800‑387‑KIDS (5437) to report a concern.

Modified: 2017-09-28
PID: 15393