Action 1: Respond to an emergency

Guidance on the actions you must take if a child has just been abused, or is at immediate risk of harm.

Guidance on the actions you must take if a child has just been abused, or is at immediate risk of harm.

The following information applies to reporting all forms of child abuse.

Ensure immediate safety

You must ensure immediate safety by:

  • separating the alleged victim and others involved, ensuring all parties are supervised by a school staff member
  • arranging and providing urgent medical assistance where necessary by:

    • administering first aid assistance
    • calling 000 for an ambulance and following any instructions from emergency service officers or paramedics.
  • calling 000 for urgent police assistance if:

    • the person who is alleged to have engaged in the abuse poses an immediate risk to the health and safety of any person. You should also be prepared to identify a contact person at the school for future liaison with police.

Preserve evidence

Where an incident of suspected child abuse occurs at the school, you may need to take action to preserve any items that may amount to evidence of the abuse. Consider all of the following:


Do not clean up the area and preserve the sites where the alleged incidents occurred. Cordon off the relevant area, room or building and take reasonable steps to ensure that no one enters these areas.


If sexual or physical abuse is suspected you may also need to ensure that the person who has allegedly committed the abuse and the child who has allegedly been abused remain in their clothing and, if this is not possible, ensure that the clothes are not washed, are handled as little as possible, and stored in a sealable bag.

Other physical items

If there are any other items that may amount to evidence (for example: weapons, bedding, condoms), try and ensure that these things remain untouched.

Potential witnesses

Reasonable precautions must be taken to prevent discussion of the incident between those involved in the alleged incident (including any other children who may have witnessed the incident). If the incident involves:

  • two or more students: a staff member should be allocated to remain with each student involved in separate rooms
  • a staff member: they should be asked to remain with a member of the school’s leadership team and be instructed not to discuss the incident with any staff, students carers or family members.