10 ways to help keep your children safe from sexual abuse

13 December 2021

Around 1 in 6 children are sexually abused before they are 16 and many aren’t able to tell anyone.

We can’t leave it to children to protect themselves so it’s vital for all adults to have the knowledge to confidently keep children safe from harm, online and offline.

That’s why we’ve brought together our top tips for parents and carers to help stop child sexual abuse.

Tip 1: Talk to your child about what they do online

Encourage them to talk about what they’ve been doing online, who they’re talking to and remind them that they can come to you if they have any concerns.

Tip 2: Have honest and open conversations about consent and relationships

Talk to your child about sex and relationships in a way that’s appropriate for their age. There are lots of great resources to help, such as the NSPCC Pantosaurus tool.

Tip 3: Create a family safety plan

A family safety plan is a great way to identify risks and have open discussions about what everyone’s expectations are as a family and how you can set appropriate boundaries.

Tip 4: Use books to help start conversations about staying safe

Books can also be a good way to help start important conversations and can make these topics seem less scary.

Tip 5: Talk to your child about smart ways to search the internet

Help reduce the chance of your child seeing something inappropriate by learning and talking to them about the safest ways to search the internet.

Tip 6: Find out about age-appropriate behaviour in children

Use our traffic light tool to help tell if a child or young person’s behaviour is age-appropriate, worrying or harmful, and how to react and protect children.

Tip 7: Browse our harmful sexual behaviour prevention guide

Around one-third of child sexual abuse is carried out by under-18s. Take a look at our advice to help prevent this, and to find out about the warning signs and how to respond.

Tip 8: Know the possible warning signs in a child’s behaviour

Sometimes unexplained changes in a child’s behaviour could indicate something is not right. Make sure you’re able to recognise these warning signs to help protect them.

Tip 9: Know the possible warning signs in an adult’s behaviour

There might also be changes in an adult’s behaviour that could indicate they might be causing harm to a child.

Tip 10: Trust your gut – talk to us about any concerning behaviour

If you have any worries then we can help you and talk through any issues. You can contact the experienced advisors on our Stop It Now! helpline to get confidential support and advice.

The helpline is anonymous and you do not need to tell us your real name or location, so you talk openly and can get the advice you need. If you’re not ready to talk to someone yet, you can use our live chat or send us a secure email.

(Updated January 2022.)

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