Helping your child who was a crime victim

For parents of children who are victims of crime
How parents react
How children react
What can I do to help my child?
Where to go for help

For parents of children who are victims of crime
It is very difficult to see your child being affected by crime, burglary, robbery, theft, assault, racial abuse, bullying, harassment, intimidation, sexual violence: these are some of the crimes that affect childfree. Children may also be witnesses of crimes, which may have serious consequences for the child and may involve being questioned by Gardaí and/or giving evidence in a court case. Obviously there is a wide variation in how children react to crime, and a lot depends on the type of crime, where the crime happens, how much the children see and know of what happened, how others around the children react, what happens in the immediate aftermath of the crime, and other factors.

How parents react

  • I wish this never happened
  • I feel so guilty that I couldn’t protect my child
  • I feel shocked, I can’t believe this has happened
  • I’m so angry with those people
  • I’m angry with everybody
  • Why couldn’t someone have done something?
  • Why didn’t somebody see what was happening?
  • What can I do to help my child?
  • How will it affect them?



How children react
Your children may

  • Complain of tummy ache
  • Have bad dreams
  • Start behaving in ways he or she did when younger
  • Show personality changes or behavioural changes, at home or at school
  • Be afraid something like this will happen again
  • Feel guilty for not preventing the incident from occurring
  • Worry about you or family members when you are not together
  • Fell a great sense of helplessness and vulnerability

Always remember, every child is different. Your child will react in his/her own unique way.


What can I do to help my child?

Children will take their cue from you. Although it is good to tell them that you are affected (if you are) it is better not to talk about your own fears, panic, anger or any complex or deep reactions you are suffering. Children need reassurance that this is something you can cope with. It is important for you to talk about your own reactions to a supportive person, so that your children are not further upset by seeing how upset you are.

Support your child

  • Understand what it’s like for them
  • Show them you can cope with it
  • Listen to them
  • Talk to them
  • Ask them how they are
  • Reassure them that they are okay
  • Answer the questions
  • Hug and cuddle them when they need it
  • Tell them things will get better, in time
  • Keep everything the same as much as possible, routine is good, set times for homework, chores and bedtime
  • Respond to their needs – leaving the lighton, walking them to school, whatever they need to feel secure
  • Be consistent
  • Look for opportunities to have fun


Some children don’t want to talk about it, that’s fine too. It’s important to talk if they need to and not to push if they don’t. You will be the best judge of this.


Where to go for help

  • Teacher
  • Your G.P.
  • Crime Victims Helpline
  • Childline
  • Parentline
  • School Counsellor
  • Psychologist
  • Social Worker