Keeping children safe
Keeping children safe from child sexual abuse
There are many things you can do to help protect your children and teens safe from sexual abuse.
In this section
For younger children
We are reading books on being the ‘boss of your body’ like Everyone’s Got a Bottom.
Parent of boy 2 and girl 5
- Encourage children’s curiosity about their own bodies.
Teach them the correct names of all their body parts.
If you talk comfortably, it will be easier for them to tell you their concerns.
- Explain that no-one has the right to touch or ask to see their private parts without good reason (such as when they are at the doctors).
- Explain that no-one has the right to show their private parts.
- Tell them they can refuse to do or look at anything with an adult or child that they feel is wrong or frightens them.
- We can encourage them to say “No”; however, it is hard for a child to say no to a bigger child or an adult.
- Encourage them to tell you whenever they are worried about what others want them to do.
- Explain that sometimes adults do things that are not OK and they should tell you if this happens.
- Respect your child’s wishes to not kiss or cuddle.
- Many abusers make children keep their abuse a secret, often using threats.
Teach your family the rule - it's ok to keep surprises but not to keep secrets.
A surprise is something nice (like a surprise birthday party) that you only have to keep to yourself for a little while and will make someone feel good when they find out.
Secrets are often asked to be kept forever and are likely to make someone feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
- Work out with your child which key people they can trust (both inside and outside of the family) to ask for help if they are frightened and you aren’t there.
- Think about who you trust to look after your children or to be alone with them.
Safety checklist for your child
My body safety checklist☑ It is NEVER OK for anyone to touch the private parts of my body and ask me to keep a secret (even if it is someone I know and like).
☑ It is NEVER OK for anyone to ask me to keep a secret if it makes me uncomfortable, or I know it is wrong (even it if it is someone I know and like).
☑ I CAN SAY NO to touching that is NOT OK. I can say "No!" or "Don't do that" or "I am going to tell".
☑ If I have a problem, I will tell an adult I trust.
Rather than just expecting my daughter to give her a hug, my friend always asks, “Would you like a hug?”. I love this really simple way of teaching consent.
Parent of girl 7
Protective behaviours lessons are part of the Health and Physical Education Curriculum and are mandated in WA schools.
These lessons use preventative methods to help combat child abuse by teaching children protective behaviours and body safety.
Find out what your child’s school is doing and support their program by continuing conversations at home.
There are a number of WA organisations that offer protective behaviour workshops for educators and parents that can be found in the 'You might also be interested in' section below).
For older children
- Know about your children’s daily world – where they are and who they are with.
- Know how they use the internet – what websites, social media apps and games do they use?
- Be aware of the games that have text and video chat features.
- Talk to them about the kinds of things they share online.
Online predators can turn ‘innocent’ chat into sexual chat and image sharing very quickly.
- Show them how to share their location on their phone with you (and ensure that they aren’t sharing their location with people they don’t know and trust).
- Show them how to send a ‘coded’ text message or phone call if they need a way out of a tricky situation.
For example, your child’s friends are pressuring them to get in the car with someone they don’t feel comfortable with.
They send you a message with the code word and this is your signal to phone them and tell them that for family reasons they have to come and get them immediately.
We made a code message. If our son sends us any message ending with a capital 'X', it means that he needs a safe way out. We will phone him immediately and say there is a family emergency and we have to pick him up right away.
Parent of boy 16
In cases of recent sexual assault, go to your nearest hospital or doctor.
The Child Protection Unit at Perth Children’s Hospital has a specialised service for children and their families.
The Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) has a 24-hour emergency helpline for people 13 years of age and older.
For more support services, see the ‘If you need support’ section below.