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Research Shows Kids Will Report Abuse Via Text To Crisis Hotlines

person holding a smartphone
Jan Vašek

New research from The Ohio State University examined how kids are using texting to report abuse to crisis hotlines.

Researchers looked at hundreds of text conversations between children and crisis text line counselors, and found nearly half of them reported abuse in their very first text message. 

"The youth did disclose maltreatment and when they didn’t disclose maltreatment right away, whatever the issue was that they came in with, often times the counselor would be able to get the youth to go ahead and talk about maltreatment," says researcher Scottye Cash, who coauthored the study.

This was the first study examining how children disclose maltreatment or abuse via text message. Cash says the results show a compelling case for adding a text message element to crisis hotlines. 

"Are there ways in which we can use technology to get youth to talk about things that are difficult, so suicide, mental health issues, and specifically for this study, we wanted to see, would they talk about abuse?" Cash says.

There is no hotline specifically designed for young people, and Cash hopes this research might inspire the development of one.

“Some of these youth may not have disclosed otherwise, and without disclosing the maltreatment they may have continued to experience it,” he says.