What to Do if You Suspect Child Abuse


The Children’s Assessment Center of Kent County is your resource if you suspect child abuse. If your child has had a significant change in behavior and/or has exhibited sexualized behavior and you do not know why, the Child Assessment Center can do a behavior assessment to help determine where the behavior is coming from.

They can also help if you are wondering if your child is displaying age appropriate behavior or are wondering what age appropriate behavior looks like.

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Four Things to Know About the Children’s Assessment Center

We wish that no one would ever have to visit the Children’s Assessment Center but if you do, here is some helpful information:

  1. It’s Free. You don’t have to pay here to investigate whether your child has been abused. If your child has been exhibiting sexualized or questionable behavior, call now to make an appointment. The Children’s Assessment Center’s skilled professionals regularly deal with young children through preteens to sift fact from fiction. The CAC can also help you determine what is appropiate behavior for your child’s age.
  2. It’s Safe. Your information and the information of your children will be kept confidential. Doors remain locked and entry is only granted by appointment. Kent County detectives are located in the same building, as are Child Protective Service Workers, should they be needed.
  3. It’s Local. The Children’s Assessment Center is at 901 Michigan NE Grand Rapids, MI 49503. You can call them at (616) 336-5160.
  4. You Won’t Need Childcare. When you bring a child in to be assessed, trained office staff and a fully stocked child-friendly lobby are ready for your other children.

Interviews with the Kent County Children’s Assessment Center are kept private and confidential.

Local Mom’s Suspicions Prompted her to Visit the Children’s Resource Center

Recently a grkids reader “Mary” shared with us her experience with the Children’s Assessment Center:

We were concerned about our 3 year old, “Alan.” He had a significant change in regards to diaper changes and temper tantrums. He had been showing extreme distress when heading to the church nursery, screaming in fright and running away. He began having nightmares about monsters, began running away from diaper changes and crying that they would hurt. He took his poop out of his diapers and spread it all over his room. These behaviors continued for several weeks.

At first we dismissed it for his age. But then one particularly stressful poop-filled day of screaming and monsters everything seemed to click into place and I began asking questions. I asked open ended questions and his answers left me feeling cold.

But where were we to go? How do you even find out the truth? After doing a little research we ended up making an appointment with the Children’s Assessment Center.

We were worried about the cost, but nothing is worth more to us than our son’s well-being. Then they told us it was free! We were worried about our other child. And then they told us she would be watched and would play and would be happy!

When we arrived we filled out a one page front and back questionnaire and then my husband and I were taken back to an interview room while our children played. During the interview we described our marital life, Alan’s social surroundings, his likes and dislikes, and discussed anything he may have been exposed to that would make him act out in this way. And then I told our interviewer how to best interact with our son to keep him talking and in the room.

We had been told that a child interview could last from 10 to 60 minutes, depending on how much the interviewer is getting out of the child. Alan’s lasted about 20. After the interview my husband and I were taken back into the interview room again to discuss what she learned about Alan.

At this point, if she had learned that gross misconduct had happened, or if Alan had named a person of abuse, the interview would have immediately stopped, CPS would have been notified, and a forensic interview scheduled, if deemed appropriate. Though nothing has been completely ruled out, she has assured us that whatever happened will most likely not leave a lasting impression, especially as Alan is already starting to move on.

SEE ALSO: What it Takes These Days to Keep Your Digital Kid Internet Safe

Mary’s children played with toys in the lobby area while Mary and her husband talked with the therapist. When it was Alan’s turn to talk with the therapist he was in a happy, safe room surrounded by things kids love. While Alan and the therapist talked he colored with markers and ate fruit snacks that Mary had given the therapist to give to Alan.

Though Mary left the Children’s Assessment Center with no clear answers that day, she did leave feeling that Alan was going to be ok, and knowing where to go if problems resurfaced.

Talking with your children about body safety is important in order to prevent abuse of all kinds. If you would like a free booklet about talking to your children about body safety you can request a Body Safety Guide here.

If you suspect child abuse, please call Children’s Protective Services at 855-444-3911.

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By | 2017-05-12T14:41:06+00:00 March 2nd, 2017|Categories: General, Parenting Resources|Tags: |0 Comments

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