Speak to your child

It is very difficult for children who have been sexually abused to put into words what has happened. They might feel scared, they might feel ashamed, or it is possible they might not recognise what has happened to them as abuse.

Having regular talks about relationships, sex and consent in an age-appropriate way with your child can help protect them from sexual abuse.

We’ve outlined some tips and resources below to help you build trust and have an ongoing conversation that can help keep your child safe from abuse.

Getting Ready

Try and avoid any dramatic ‘we need to talk’ statements. Think about a time when you’re both comfortable, and you can bring the subject up naturally, like watching TV or on a walk.

How you talk with your child will depend on their age, but it’s a good idea to ask about the area of their life you’re concerned about in a neutral way. You might say: “Tell me about...” or “What do you think about...”

Tips for Talking

It’s important to try not to rush to a negative judgement of what your child is saying. Remember, you want your child to know they can tell you what is happening.

Try to help your child see how ground rules you agree with them can help keep them safe - online and offline.

Make time to talk on an ongoing basis. As a rule, talk little and often.

If you are worried that your child may be being abused or you discover they are being abused, you can get confidential help and support by calling the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

Specific resources for children of different ages

When a child starts secondary school, they can encounter risks such as sexting and grooming.

For more information on how to keep your teen safe from online sexual abuse, visit: https://talk.iwf.org.uk/

#AskTheAwkward from National Crime Agency provides three short films to watch with your child, and top tips, conversation starters and information to help you talk with them about online relationships and sex.

Talking regularly with your child about relationships and sex can help develop shared understanding, trust and support between you.

Talk little. Talk often. Ask The Awkward. Visit: www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/ask-the-awkward

What you can do next