Having an open relationship with your child helps to prevent abuse. Kids who know adults will listen without judgment often are safer.
- Teach children they are special, valuable, and deserve to be safe.
- Talk about why your child deserves respect and how to show others respect.
- Tell them that sometimes adults or kids may try to trick them, using animals, food, money, special attention, or other things kids like. Encourage them to talk about it.
- Teach them the real names of private parts and about the need to keep them private. You could say that no one should touch them where a bathing suit covers.
- When children are told they have to hug or kiss or be hugged or kissed, they also learn that it’s OK for someone else to control their bodies. Let them set their own boundaries.
- Encourage children to talk with you if they feel unsafe. Say you will listen and believe and help them.
- Tell your kids, “If anyone tells you to keep a secret and it makes you uncomfortable, tell a trusted adult about it as soon as you can.”
Learn more about child abuse and neglect and protecting children
- Recursos en español
- Cómo hablar con niños sobre el abuso sexual
- Understanding types of abuse and neglect
- More about child abuse and neglect, and some warning signs
- Safety planning, warning signs, what to do: stopitnow.org
- Preventing and reporting abuse
- Types of child trauma
- How to talk with kids about sexual abuse
- Signs that a child may have been sexually abused
- Signs someone may want to sexually abuse your child, called “grooming”
- How to react to a child who may have been sexually abused
- Stress-reducing ideas for children and teens
- Understanding Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how to overcome them
- Learn about Child Trauma
- Parent ToolKit: Tips for your child’s academic, physical and social emotional growth
- Protect kids from child sexual abuse with a Family Safety Plan
- Family Resources about apps parents should know; tip sheets to teach kids about safety online, while traveling, at summer camp, and more
- Good for Teens
- TeensHealth by Nemours
- Videos, games, quizzes, comics to help make teens safer online
- An amusing video about understanding sexual consent: “Consent: It’s Simple as Tea”
Digital/online safety for children and teens:
- Age-appropriate talking tips and Personal boundaries and consent (older kids) from Darkness to Light
- Common Sense Media offers suggestions and articles about cell phones, screen time, movie and game reviews, and more.
- Family Online Safety Institute has videos and other resources for adult caretakers
- Netsmartz.org has age-appropriate videos, resources for caretakers on gaming, and tip sheets on subjects like sexting, trusted adults, and a Social Media Checklist for Teens
- Report unsafe online behavior to the CyberTipline
- Stop bullying and cyberbullying
- Posters about body safety for homes and classrooms
- More adult resources for protecting children and youth online and helping survivors recover
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Resilience
- Two stories: A Call to Connection: Making Childhood Trauma Personal, Allison Sampson-Jackson, PhD, LCSW, CSOTP
- What trauma taught me about resilience, Charles Hunt
- Sasha Joseph Neulinger found hope in talking about his child sexual abuse
- Childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime, Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris, MD
Call or chat with questions and concerns. Most are 24/7. Services in “bold” have online chat.
- ChildHelp National Child Abuse Hotline 800-4-A-CHILD (422-4453)
- Sexual Assault Response and Awareness Hotline, Roanoke (540) 981-9352
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255)
- Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline (Va.) 800-838-8238
- Parenting Help (Families Forward Virginia) 800-CHILDREN (244-5373)
- Guide to local community services (crisis, food, jobs) 211
- RAINN (sexual violence) 800-656-HOPE (4673)
- For texting or live chat, go to childhelp.org/childhelp-hotline.
- Crisis Text Line Text START to 741741