What to Teach to Prevent Child Abuse

It's important to teach children to recognize attitudes and behaviors that threaten their privacy.
What to Teach to Prevent Child Abuse
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 17 February, 2023

Child abuse unfortunately still exists. It can completely ruin childhood and leave severe consequences in the future. To help prevent child abuse, parents need to be protective of their children, and be able to identify suspicious behavior.

Parents should also talk to their kids about sexuality and aspects linked to it from an early age. Obviously, you need to adapt the concepts to their age, but you shouldn’t avoid having this conversation.

With the right knowledge and keeping a close parent-child relationship, you can help prevent these awful practices.

What to teach to prevent child abuse

In one of its campaigns, UNICEF provides three basic tips for children. They teach them to identify and avoid actions that infringe upon their privacy. These tips are:

1. Respect your own and others’ private parts

The first aspect the organization emphasizes is to recognize and respect private parts. Thus, it’s important to teach children to be alert so no one touches their body’s private parts.

2. No to complicity: you don’t have to keep bad secrets

The second tip from UNICEF has to do with secret-keeping. A common practice of child molesters is to gain children’s trust and ask them to keep the secret about the contract they have together.

To prevent this, teach your children not to hide information from adults. Even if they’re threatened not to tell anyone, they need to tell. It’s important for their safety.

What to Teach to Prevent Child Abuse

3. Be confident

Lastly, children need to feel confident that they have someone to talk to. They need to feel they have someone they can speak with about their problems. This way, they’ll feel supported to deal with any situation.

Providing support and not judging is most important when trying to prevent bad situations like these.

Other tips to prevent child abuse

In addition to what we already mentioned, you can use these tips to teach children how to respond to dangerous situations:

  • Teach them to respect their space. Show your children that no adult has the right to hug them, caress them, or give affection if they don’t want it. If this happens, they have to tell their parents immediately.
  • Tell when something happens with a family member, no matter how awful. Several publications claim that the majority of child abuse cases are committed by someone in the family. A loved and known person can still hurt your child. Therefore, they need to know how to act.
  • Trust your children. If children have the courage to tell their parents something, they need you to trust them. Otherwise, they could feel even more helpless than they already do.
  • Don’t force them to do anything. Children don’t have to kiss or hug anyone, not even their relatives. If they’re forced, they’re being taught to submit to what everyone wants to do with their body.

Signs that could indicate a child suffers from abuse

In many cases, abuse is detected after it’s happened. Therefore, to avoid bad consequences, pay close attention to your child’s behavior. If you notice these signs, pay more attention to the situation:

  • Anxiety: children feel uncomfortable all the time. They want to hide during certain situations.
  • They eat and sleep poorly: if children don’t eat or rest properly, it’s possible that something happened to them. It’s your mission to find out.
What to Teach to Prevent Child Abuse
  • They’re detached and silent: if you notice that children are more withdrawn, find out if something happened to them. Also notice if they don’t want to be in public or hide behind you constantly.
  • Expressions: children who have suffered child abuse can show it in drawings or games. If you notice something strange, pay close attention to their emotions.

Trust among parents and children is extremely important. Then, you can more easily avoid problems of sexual harassment. While it’s necessary to teach them to identify and prevent child abuse, you should also create a close bond so they feel like they can come to you and talk to you about anything.



All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.