Navigating A Broken World: Suspecting Child Neglect Or Abuse Due To Substance Use

Suspecting Child Neglect Or Abuse - Addiction Hope

Contributor: Ryan Moffat, B.S. in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. Pastor of Vast Church.

I have had the unfortunate experience of being involved as a “mandatory reporter” a few times in my life, as I’ve seen kids neglected or abused by a parent (or both parents) due to drug and alcohol abuse. It is a sad experience.

3 Important Principles To Remember When Suspecting Child Neglect Or Abuse

My hope and prayer is that you would never have to go through such traumatic incidents. But if you find yourself in a situation where you see an innocent child suffering due to the damaging effects of drug and alcohol abuse, then I would like you to consider three important principles that will help you navigate this broken world with broken people.

#1: Don’t Hesitate To Get Legal Authorities Involved If A Threat Is Suspected

Too many people believe the lie that if they just stay quiet and keep problems swept under the rug, then they can manage to help an addicted person out of their addiction. Let me be clear: If anything criminal has happened OR you have compelling evidence (a testimony from a child or something to that effect), then don’t try to take the law into your own hands and solve the problem. Don’t do that! Instead, call the police and let the authorities do their jobs.

#2: Be Redemptive; Don’t Just Try To Be Right!

So many attempted confrontations go south because the heart of the person doing the confronting comes with accusations, blame and anger. No one (at least no one I know) deals with those kinds of attitudes very well.

Instead of just being a truth teller (which is important), be a truth teller with a heart! Nobody knows how “right” you are (even if you’re right) until they know how much you deeply care about them. Move toward confronting people with an attitude of gentleness, love and grace.

The apostle Paul puts it this way in Galatians 6:1-2:

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.

#3: Make Sure You Love, Support And Affirm The Child Involved

Unfortunately, the person that often gets lost in these nasty situations is the child. If you are connected to the child who is being abused or neglected, then make it a priority to encourage, bless, and love the child who has been violated.

Often times, what children need in these situations is a loving, trusted adult to affirm their pain and simply say, “What happened to you was wrong. I care about you and I will protect you”.

If you have the sacred opportunity to walk with a child who’s been abused or neglected by a parent, remember that it is an immense privilege and responsibility to shepherd the heart of that child.

Remember there is hope in the situation. Report any suspected abuse, and if abuse is confirmed, then all parties involved should seek counseling. You can help facilitate the healing by involving professional counselors.

Community Discussion: Share Your Thoughts Here!

What steps have you taken in reporting abuse to authorities? Whom did you reach out to? Please add your comment(s) below.

Ryan Moffat FamilyAbout the Author: Ryan Moffat has a B.S. in Bible and Theology and a minor in counseling from Multnomah University. He has pastored students and families, and is passionate about Christ-centered recovery and healing. Ryan is the teaching pastor at Vast Church in Sisters, Oregon and is currently working on his Masters in Theology at Western Seminary in Portland.

The opinions and views of Addiction Hope’s guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective on all forms of addiction. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer wider discussion of various issues by different experts and professionals.

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