What you can do to protect your child
There are things you can do to help your child recognise when something is wrong and to tell others about it.
Talk with your children every day. Stop what you are doing and listen.
Talk to them about good things that happen and the things that worry them. Let them know they can talk to you at any time and there is nothing so bad that they can't tell you.
It's also important you tell them not to keep secrets about things that worry them.
Talk about safety
From an early age you should talk to your children about what being safe means and what it feels like.
Help your children to understand body signals that tell them when something is wrong or they don't feel safe, such as:
- shaky legs
- sweaty palms
- bad butterflies in the tummy.
Teach them to name their feelings and to tell you when they feel confused or scared.
Teach your child about their body
You should teach your child:
- they have the right to feel safe at all times
- their whole body is private and belongs to them
- it's not OK for others to touch their private parts or for them to touch other peoples' - this includes their mouths and areas covered by the underwear, including singlets
- how to say 'No' or 'Stop' in a loud voice to any touching they don't like or want and to tell you about it straight away
- that unwanted touching should never be kept a secret
- the correct names for their body parts, including sexual parts, so they are better able to talk about them
- to trust their feelings and not to keep secrets that make them feel bad.
Build strong boundaries
If your child has good boundaries it can be harder for someone to harm them. You can help your child develop clear boundaries for personal privacy by doing the following:
- notice and respect when they do not want physical contact - some will say 'No' while others might show it non-verbally like pulling away from hugs
- don't make them kiss anyone if they don't want to - including family or friends - your child might want to wave or shake hands instead
- give them privacy in the toilet or shower - as long as it's safe.
Create safety networks
Help your child to make a list of adults they feel safe with. You can:
- help them identify up to five people they can contact if they need to
- be led by who your child feels safe with
- review the list often
- make sure your child knows how to contact each person
- make sure people are happy to be in your child's safety network
- ensure your child's network understands what it means.