personal safety and your child
Talking about personal safety with your child can be perceived as difficult for many parents. As parents and carers of children, there are a number of key steps we can take to build resilience and protect our kids against sexual harm and exploitation.
On this page you will find advice on how to keep your kids safe, as well as access to our free Personal Safety Guide for parents and carers. Much of this information forms the basis of Bravehearts’ signature personal safety program for young children, Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure Show, which is delivered in schools and childcare centres across Australia.
Tips for keeping your kids safe
TEACH THEM EARLY ABOUT PERSONAL SAFETY
It’s never too early to sow the seeds of personal safety. As parents, we need to teach our children 5 basic principles (which form the basis of our personal safety education program for young children, Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure).
These principles are:
- To trust their feelings and to distinguish between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ feelings
- To say ‘no’ to adults if they feel unsafe and unsure
- That they own their own bodies
- That nothing is so yucky that they can’t tell someone about it
- That if they feel unsafe or unsure to run and tell someone they trust.
TALK TO YOUR KIDS
Encourage your children to feel comfortable telling you anything, especially if it involves another adult. Encourage your children to identify other trusted adults they can talk to in confidence.
Learn about the people with whom your child is spending time. Take notice if someone shows one or all of your children a great deal of attention or begins giving them gifts. Take time to talk to your children, find out why the person is acting in this way.
EMPOWER YOUR KIDS
Knowledge is power. Teach your children about their bodies. Teach them the correct language to use when describing their private parts. Emphasise that those parts are private. This will make them more at ease if they need to tell you about a touch that made them feel uncomfortable. Additionally, if a child uses a word like ‘garage’ or ‘golf stick’ to describe their private parts, a disclosure might be missed.
Be an active participant with your children’s activities, you will have a better opportunity to observe how the adults in charge interact with your children. If you are concerned about anyone’s behaviour, take it up with the sponsoring organisation.
TEACH THEM THEIR RIGHTS
Teach your kids that they have the right to say NO to any unwelcome, uncomfortable, or confusing touch or actions by others. Teach them to tell you immediately if this happens. Reassure them that you are there to help and it is okay to tell you anything.
NOTICE CHANGES IN BEHAVIOUR
Be sensitive to any changes in your children’s behaviour or attitude. Encourage open communication and learn how to be an active listener. Look and listen to small indications that something may be troubling your children because children are not always comfortable disclosing disturbing events or feelings. This may be because they are concerned about your reaction to their problems. If your children do confide problems to you, strive to remain calm, non-critical, and non-judgemental. Listen compassionately to their concern and work with them to get the help they need to resolve the problem.
PRACTICE SAFETY SKILLS
Practice basic safety skills with your children. Make an outing to a mall or a park a ‘teachable’ experience in which your children can practice checking with you before going to the restroom with a friend, and locating the adults who can help if they need assistance.
CYBER-SAFETY IS IMPORTANT TOO
Teach your child never to give out their last name, address, or phone number to a person on the Internet and never to meet Internet friends in person without a parent’s supervision and consent. Parents should help children choose a screen name that does not disclose information about their location. Teach children not to post pictures with identifying information such as a school uniform. Always keep your computer in a public area of your house – not in a child’s bedroom. More on this topic here.
FREE Personal Safety Guide for Parents and Carers
Download your free copy of our Personal Safety Guide for parents and carers. This booklet will provide you with ideas and advice on how to talk to your child or young person about keeping safe. Includes information about online safety, as well as activities for young children. Complete the form below and we will email you the download link!