Keys to Preventing Sexual Abuse of Children

Don’t wait.

If you are concerned about keeping your child safe from sexual abuse, now is the time to create a safer environment for everyone in your family. Prevention means promoting healthy behaviors rather than waiting to punish violations.

The most effective sexual abuse prevention happens before a child is harmed. That’s where the real opportunity lies. Kids are safer when adults take the time to get the facts about sexual abuse and behaviors that might suggest a problem early on. Children are safer when adults choose to share prevention information and speak up as soon as they have a concern—rather than waiting for evidence of harm. Kids shouldn’t be given the responsibility to recognize and challenge unsafe behaviors in adults or older children.

Here are 3 actions that you can take to protect kids from sexual abuse, beginning today.

Take Responsibility

  • Watch for any inappropriate behaviors in adults and children.
  • Stay attuned to your children’s use of technology.
  • Demonstrate how to say “no” whenever appropriate.
  • Set and respect family boundaries around emotional and physical privacy.
  • Speak up when you see any inappropriate behaviors.
  • Report anything you know or suspect might be sexual abuse.

Learn, Teach and Practice

  • Practice talking with adults and children about difficult topics.
  • Use the proper names of body parts.
  • Be clear with adults and children about the difference between okay touch and touch that is not okay.
  • Explain the difference between a secret and a surprise to the adults and children you know, and explain why secrets may make kids vulnerable.
  • Make it clear that children have the right to request privacy or say “no”.
  • Give kids permission to tell anyone they trust if they feel scared, uncomfortable or confused about someone’s behavior toward them.

Make a Plan

  • Create a family safety plan that is clear to everyone and easy to follow.
  • Make a list of people and organizations you can contact for advice, information, and help.

Remember, the most effective prevention involves actions you take before any abuse occurs. Prevention can start in your home today.