What children should know
Children should know:
- that adults are responsible for protecting children. It is not the child’s responsibility to protect themselves. It can be helpful to identify a set of adults who the child feels they can turn to if they ever need help. It is better the child has trusted adults from several different areas of their life, so that the child always has someone to turn to no matter where they are. Also, if abuse occurs, they then have the option to disclose to somebody who is not so close to the situation.
- that they can choose to change their trusted adults at any time for any reason.
- that adults who break the body rules should not be a part of their trusted adult network.
- the types of circumstances that they may want or need to share with a trusted adult.
- who their trusted adults are and the different ways they can be contacted.
What children should be able to do
Children should select five trusted adults from at least three different areas of their life; with at least one from their family, at least one from school and at least one from somewhere else. The child should let the trusted adults know they have identified them as part of their support network. The child should be able to talk about significant moments in their life with their trusted adults and this could include communicating about things that are happening in their life or things they are learning in Orbit.
Children should be able to list the qualities of the relationship they have with a trusted adult and understand that just because someone has authority over them, it does not automatically mean the qualities of the relationship are positive.
Why this is an important part of child sexual abuse prevention
Creating an environment where children feel comfortable to share things that worry them and have someone to listen and be supportive encourages healthy relationships between children and adults. Having a healthy attachment to trusted adults is the single most important protective factor to protect children from sexual abuse. Responding sensitively and supportively is crucial in helping children talk about what is happening to them.
Ideas for having conversations on this concept
- talk to your child about the purpose of the trusted adult network
- ask your child what they should look for in a trusted adult, and compare this list with the qualities of a good friend
- ask your child about who they would like to have in their trusted adult network
- guide your child to choose five adults from at least three different areas of their life (school, family, other). It is important that the child chooses their trusted adults
- ask your child why they might ever like to change who is in their trusted adult network (e.g. no longer see this person, don’t feel safe with this person, thought of someone else to include)
- let your child know they can change who their trusted adults are at any time, and it is completely within your child’s control
- discuss with your child what sorts of things they might like to talk about with their trusted adults
- discuss with your child the sorts of things that they might need to talk about with their trusted adults.