Committee for Children Blog

How and When to Have Conversations About Child Sexual Abuse

child sexual abuse, child safety, social emotional learning, parenting


Child sexual abuse is prevalent yet silenced.

Quote from the play “Telling”, stories from adult survivors of sexual abuse.

These words stuck with me after listening to an introduction of the play Telling, which unveils stories from adult survivors of sexual abuse. The ‘silence’ part of this is even more jolting given that 1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 20 boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18, and that it is usually by someone they know.  Because it can happen to anyone, including someone close to us, we all need to be willing and prepared to unsilence child sexual abuse through our communications. One way to do this is by listening and talking; having regular conversations about safety and abuse with other adults and your children.

There are many free resources available to guide these conversations, on where to begin, what to say and how to say it. Start with our Abuse Prevention Resource page, where you’ll find videos about how to start the conversation, what to say when your child discloses abuse, age-appropriate talking points, and other resources. These are just a few of the important highlights, and remember that although it may feel like bumbling at first, it gets easier with time and practice.

How to Talk to Kids about Sexual Abuse

This video reminds us to tell them to ask us before spending time with another adult, and to tell us and not keep secrets if anyone tries to touch their private parts.

Use everyday moments

Use books to help teach and talk about private body part safety, and take advantage of teachable moments when questions or opportunities arise, such as during bedtime or before going somewhere with another adult.

Teach Rules for Kids of All Ages

Talk about the 5 ‘it’s never okay’ safety rules for private body parts, regularly mention them as part of the other family safety rules, and tell kids never to keep secrets that break these safety rules.

Talk to kids of all ages, and adults

Kids – It is never too early or too late to talk with kids about child sexual abuse. Check out the guidelines for how to vary conversations for kids of differing ages. Keep asking questions

Adults – If you tell others you have talked to your child and one of those people is a potential offender, this person may be less likely to act, knowing it will be easier to get caught. Still wondering what to say and when and how to bring it up? This resource on talking to other adults will help.

Have the Talk

No matter how uncomfortable it may feel to have these conversations, remember the payoff: talking is the best way to keep kids safe. Talk about it, a lot——-Listen——-Ask questions.

Talking is not a one-time thing. It is something you do, always.

Learn More

Since 1979, Committee for Children has been dedicated to child abuse prevention. Learn about the research behind our Child Protection Unit curriculum, and find more resources to help keep kids safe on our Abuse Prevention Resources page.

In honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month, we encourage every family to have the talk today.