Screening Questions for Routine Intake Assessment



You should use screening questions to routinely ask about abuse and neglect. Screening questions should be asked of both parents and children. Most mandated reporters, regardless of where they work, perform some kind of routine intake assessment—for example, as a child enters a new school, as part of a medical examination, or as part of case management services. Screening questions about child abuse and neglect can be added to your assessment form. You can learn to ask these questions in a gentle, non-threatening manner.

Screening questions should be asked in a way that does not create lasting anxiety or fear. If possible, alternate between questions that could uncover abuse, and questions about more conventional subjects, keeping the interview positive and informational. If children describe situations that could be related to abuse or neglect, be sure to avoid placing blame, accusing, or making the child feel shame for what has occurred.

Begin your assessment with open-ended questions. If your questions are answered in a way that makes you wonder, you may need to follow with closed-ended questions that must be answered with simple statements of fact. The following questions are examples and should be tailored to your setting.

WHAT Screening Questions Should I Ask Children and Adolescents? 

Questions about physical abuse:

-Have you ever been hurt by someone taking care of you?

-How did that happen?

-Have you ever been taken to the hospital/emergency room
because you were hurt?

-How did that happen?

 Questions about
sexual abuse:

-Is anyone making you do anything that you feel
uncomfortable about?

-What have you learned about “good touch/bad touch?” How did
you learn that?

-What would you do if someone were trying to touch your
private areas?

-What if it was someone that you know?

  Questions about

-What kind of things make you scared when you are at home?

-What does the word “discipline” mean to you?

-How was your mother disciplined when she was growing up?
How about your dad?

-What is discipline like for you? Your brothers or sisters?

-How do you think kids should be disciplined if they do
something bad?

-Who is at your house when you come home from school (when
you get up in the morning, go to sleep at night)?

-Who helps you get ready for school?

-What do you think you are worth as a person?

-Are there times when you feel bad about yourself? How does
that happen?


What Screening
Questions Should I Ask a Parent?

Questions about
physical abuse:

-On a scale ranging from “never gets hurt” to “accident
prone,” how would you describe your child?

-Tell me about your child’s most serious injury. What were
the circumstances?

-What kinds of things do you use the emergency room for?
What circumstances have made you take your child to an ER?

 Questions for sexual

-What does your child know about sex?

-How did he/she find out?

-What have you taught your child about “good touch/bad

-How would you know if someone were trying to touch your
child’s private areas?  

Questions about

-What does the word “discipline” mean to you?

-How were you disciplined when you were growing up?

-What do you think should be done when a child is bad?

-Tell me about a time when you were afraid of losing control
with your child.

-Tell me about your experience with drugs and alcohol

-How do you think your drug and alcohol experience impacts
your child?