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Protecting your child from sexual abuse

Think about how your child learns new things and how you can teach them about sexuality and keeping safe.

Sex education

Start as soon as your child can communicate (age-appropriate).

Find out what your child is being taught at childcare, preschool and at school about sexuality and protective behaviours and repeat this learning at home.

Find resources to help teach your child. Shine SA- Provides services and information to improve sexual health. Phone: 1300 794 584 or visit www.shinesa.org.au/contact

Teach your child about the body and which parts are private sexual parts – no-one is allowed to tickle or play with the private sexual parts of others.

Use age-appropriate words for  body parts so that your child can report sexual misbehaviour – penis, scrotum, testicles, vulva, vagina, bottom, anus, breasts, mouth and tongue.

Keeping safe

Teach your child:

  • about relationships and personal boundaries
  • about surprises and secrets, and ‘secrets’ that must be shared even though they make people sad
  • to communicate ‘no, stop that!’ when someone makes them feel scared, sad or uncomfortable
  • how to make healthy choices, feel good about themselves, problem solve and get help when they need it. Praise their efforts.

Help your child to understand the difference between what is good and WRONG touching.

Have rules about body privacy and teach your child to tell you if someone breaks those rules.

Refer to dangerous situations instead of dangerous people.

Help your child to identify a range of people they can trust and approach if they feel unsafe.

Encourage independence in dressing, hygiene, toileting and eating where possible.

Talk with your child about their use of phones and the internet, chat rooms and social network sites. Teach them how to make safe choices about who to be in contact with.

Be aware that abuse by siblings, friends and other young people is possible and is just as damaging as abuse by adults.

Outside of the home

Know who is in contact with your child.

Ask your child who they are in contact with by phone and computer, and check messages on these devices.

Get to know who is working with your child and watch how they work with your child.

Be clear with carers and teachers about your child’s developmental level, their behaviours and needs.

If your child is non-verbal, ask for a report on your child’s daily activities and routines.

Ask about:

  • supervision and monitoring of your child when they are in care or at school
  • policies and practices that are aimed at keeping your child safe.


Parenting SA

Phone: 08 8303 1660
Email: health.parentingsa [at] sa.gov.au
Fax: 08 8303 1653