How Can Adults Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse?

Parents and other caretakers should speak with children openly about sexuality, healthy relationships, and abuse.

These conversations should start early. Teach children that it is never okay for adults to act in a sexual way with children and that adults never need children to “help” them with any of their body parts. 

For more information on how to talk to children about sexual abuse, please visit Stop It Now’s tip sheet on this topic. 

Listen to children and respect their boundaries.

If a child does not want to hug or kiss a friend or relative, honor that boundary rather than requiring physical affection. Whenever possible, ask for a child’s permission before touching them. If a child seems uncomfortable with a particular adult, find a time afterwards to ask them about their discomfort and talk about what is happening.

Caregivers should monitor children’s use of the Internet, social media, and smartphones.

While it is possible for parents to monitor activity without a child’s consent or knowledge, it is often more productive for parents to take the opportunity to start a conversation with their children about their use of technology. Maintaining open communication and emphasizing safety should be high priorities. Parents should avoid taking a punishment-oriented approach to technology use, as this may encourage children to become more secretive about their activities.

For more information on the safe use of technology, check out the Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety, created by the FBI.