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


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.