7 Practical Strategies to Empower Children to Speak Up About Sexual Abuse


As parents or guardians, one of our most crucial responsibilities is to ensure the safety and well-being of our children. However, discussing sensitive topics like sexual abuse can be daunting. Yet, it’s imperative to equip our children with the knowledge and confidence to speak up if they ever encounter such a situation.

Here are seven practical strategies to help empower children to speak up about sexual abuse.

Start Conversations Early:

Begin talking to your children about their bodies and boundaries from a young age. Teach them the proper names for body parts and explain that certain parts are private. Encourage open dialogue and let them know they can come to you with any questions or concerns.

By normalizing these discussions, you create a safe environment where they feel comfortable discussing uncomfortable topics.

Teach Them About Consent:

Educate your children about the concept of consent and the importance of respecting others’ boundaries. Explain that no one should touch them inappropriately without their permission, and they should never touch someone else without their consent.

Use age-appropriate language and examples to help them understand what consent means in different situations.

Trust Their Instincts:

Encourage your children to trust their instincts and speak up if something feels wrong or makes them uncomfortable. Let them know that it’s okay to say no, even to adults, and that they won’t get in trouble for speaking up.

Reassure them that you will always believe and support them if they come to you with concerns about their safety.

Role-Play Scenarios:

Practice different scenarios with your children to help them develop assertiveness and confidence in speaking up. Role-play situations where they may feel uncomfortable or pressured, such as someone asking them to keep a secret or touch them inappropriately. Guide them on how to assertively say no and seek help from a trusted adult.

Discuss Safe and Unsafe Secrets:

Teach your children the difference between safe secrets (like surprise parties) and unsafe secrets (related to their safety or well-being). Let them know that they should never keep secrets about someone touching them inappropriately or making them feel uncomfortable.

Encourage them to share any secrets that make them feel scared or uneasy with you or another trusted adult.

Provide Safe Adults:

Ensure your children know who the safe adults are in their lives whom they can turn to if they ever feel unsafe or need help. These may include parents, grandparents, teachers, or counselors. Emphasize that they should never keep secrets about child sexual assault and that three safe adults are there to protect and support them.

Foster a Culture of Openness:

Create an environment where communication is valued and respected. Encourage your children to express their thoughts and feelings openly, without fear of judgment. Listen actively to what they have to say and validate their emotions.

By fostering open communication, you build a strong foundation of trust and empowerment that enables your children to speak up about anything, including child sexual assault.


Protecting our children from harm is a responsibility we all share. By implementing these practical strategies and fostering open communication, we can empower our children to speak up about sexual abuse and protect themselves and others from harm.

Remember, it’s never too early to start these conversations, and the safety and well-being of our children should always be our top priority.