Tell & Keep on Telling
What children should know
Children should know that it is never okay for an adult to break the body rules with a child and that if this happens to them, it is not their fault and they should tell their trusted adults and keep telling until someone believes them and makes them safe. They should also know that they can disclose abuse at any time.
Why this is an important part of child sexual abuse prevention
Adults are responsible for the protection of children. However, if an adult is unaware that a child is being sexually abused, the adults will not know to do something about it. Even after the child tells, some adults may not believe the child, not know what to do about the abuse or feel too close to the perpetrator to do anything. It is important that the child knows that if the first person they tell does not believe him/her, then they should keep telling until someone believes them, and is able to keep them safe.
Research says that children and young people are most likely to initially disclose abuse to either a parent or same-aged friend (Priebe & Svedin 2008; Shackel 2009). The Orbit program encourages the use of the “trusted adult network” to minimise the risk that children tell but nothing happens to change the situation.
Ideas for having conversations on this concept
- Play through some of the Speak Up game scenarios with your child and talk to your child about these scenarios.
- Talk to your child about who they would choose as their trusted adults and how they could go about telling them something important.
- Talk to your child about other people they can contact if they do not feel they can talk to any of their trusted adults about something that is going on in their life (for example, school guidance counsellor, police officer, family doctor or Kids Help Line). Make sure your child knows how to find contact details for these people.
- Create a poster together with your child’s list of trusted adults, and how they could be reached.
- Play a game with your child. Write down the different environments that your child is a part of (school, sports, choir, friend’s house, grandparents, church etc.). For each of the locations ask your child who they could talk to if they needed to. For example,
“if you were at soccer and someone tried to break the body rules, who could you tell?” Repeat this for all environments. By rehearsing this way you are supporting your child to problem solve, providing an opportunity to practise and helping them to develop a healthy self-concept.
Priebe, G. & Svedin, C.G. 2008. ‘Child sexual abuse is largely hidden from the adult society: an epidemiological study of adolescents’ disclosures’. Child Abuse & Neglect 32(2008):1095-1108.
Shackel, D.R. 2009. ‘Understanding Children’s Medium for Disclosing Sexual Abuse: A Tool for Overcoming Potential Misconceptions in the Courtroom”. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 16(3):379-393.