“Need to Tell” Situations
What children should know
The Orbit program teaches children to identify potentially risky situations where they may need to share information with a trusted adult. Some of these situations will be clear and easy for them to identify. For example, when a body rule is broken or a private space is invaded. However some examples might not be as explicit and may be more challenging for a child to decide if it is a “need to tell” situation or not. These situations include scenarios where someone may be trying to isolate a child from others or uses manipulative or coercive behaviours. It will be helpful for you to read through what tactics do perpetrators use to abuse children (in the Questions about Child Sexual Abuse section of this resource).
It is important that children know and feel that they can approach a trusted adult about anything at all. Children need to understand that you believe that their safety is a priority over everything else.
Not all “need to tell” situations will identify an abusive situation. However, if abuse is revealed it is helpful for you to actively listen to the child and respond in a caring and calm way.
Why this is an important part of child sexual abuse prevention
Identifying situations as “need to tell” helps a child to understand when they need to seek assistance from adults with issues arising in their life. Exposing children to a decision making task helps them to identify and subsequently choose an appropriate response. This will in turn increase their level of knowledge, skill and confidence in being able to problem solve and seek appropriate support.
Including this in sexual abuse prevention also increases the level of communication between trusted adults and children, which is a major contributor to improving the protective capacities of communities.
Ideas for having conversations on this concept
- Revisit the concept of the “body rules” with your child.
- Help children identify the types of situations where they may want to discuss with you or their trusted adult a situation that makes them feel uncomfortable. Be explicit with children and use examples that they can understand.
- Identify what coercive, manipulative, threatening behaviours look like e.g. if you don’t let me do that I won’t be your friend/you won’t come to my house anymore for a swim/I will hurt you/I will pay you.
- Let children know there is nothing that they cannot talk to you about.
- Play some levels of the Need to Tell Machine mini-game and talk about some of the scenarios and explain why they are “need to tell” scenarios. In scenarios where it is not clear whether the body rules have been broken, explain to the child that even if they are unsure, they can tell their trusted adults what is happening.
- Discuss “qualities of a healthy relationship” and ask your child to list these or create a poster for their wall – see template provided.