The best way to teach Abuse Prevention Education to children
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Recently at a parents information session, I was asked “Holly-ann, how do I start a conversation with my child about sex or teach them abuse prevention education. How do I give them information that is going to help keep them safe?”

This is a very common question and the answer is – “Keep it simple”. A good method is to use those teachable moments that arise when children are inquisitive as they provide you with an opportunity to introduce the topic, or when children ask those questions that take us out of our comfort zone. For example; you’re driving the kids to school in the morning, and over the radio comes an advert “Do you suffer from erectile dysfunction?” You quickly glance in the rear view mirror to check the look on your child’s face, hoping they weren’t listening. Then a little voice comes from the back seat “Mum what’s erectile dysfunction?” All you want to do is crawl under the seat and you nearly run up the back of the car in front of you. The first answer that comes to mind is “Ask your father, he knows”, then you quickly realise that answer is not going to help the situation at all!

Enough of the comedy, so what do you do? How do you answer that question? It is simple; just explain to them what it is. Tell your child “It’s when a man’s penis won’t go hard”. From my experience the conversation is going to go in one of two directions. Your child is going to accept your answer (not necessarily understand it) or they are going to ask what a penis is or the stock standard “but why” question. From here give your child very short concise answers until their curiosity is satisfied, or if you realise the conversation is going to take a while, then you tell them you will talk to them about it when they get home from school. If you do defer the conversation, please make sure you revisit it with you child. A great book to help you with this type of conversation is “Talk soon. Talk often. A guide for parents talking to their kids about sex. This book is free and is available from the Government of Western Australia Department of Health.

Another teachable moment is at bath time, when out of curiosity one child tries to touch another child’s private parts. Rather than make a big deal out of it, just explain that they are ‘their’ private body parts and that no one is allowed to touch ‘their’ private parts except for them. Explain that private means ‘just for you’ and no-one is allowed to touch ‘your’ private parts except for you, unless there is a medical reason. For example, if your private body parts are sore then Mum or Dad or a doctor may need to take a look and treat them; but even they need to ask you for permission to look at or touch your private body parts. It is very important to empower children at a young age and help them to understand that they are the boss of their body.

It is also very important children are taught the correct anatomical names for their private body parts. Boys have four private body parts: Mouth, Bottom, Penis and Testicle. Girls also have four private body parts: Mouth, Bottom, Breasts and Vagina. Depending on the age of your child you may also want to introduce the term Vulva.

Another wonderful way to introduce the conversation about abuse prevention is through children’s story books. These books can be used as a conversation stimulus and can also offer a one-step-removed strategy, which is a great way to talk about the subject without focusing the attention on your child. It can promote discussion with children about safety, feelings, relationships and problem solving, in a safe, controlled environment.

In fact just about every children’s story book has the potential to be a protective education lesson. For example, “The Hungry Caterpillar” persisted in eating and eating. Persistence is really important, as children need to persist when seeking help from an adult they trust, if they feel unsafe. “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” had to risk on purpose and cross the bridge to get to the other side of the river, otherwise they would have starved. Risking on purpose is another crucial part of the protective education program, as children need to be safe risk takers and be able to risk on purpose to learn new skills and overcome challenges. There are so many other examples.

I believe this education needs to start from an early age. I have just released a new teaching resource called the Safe4Kids Protective Education Program. The program is specifically designed for childcare centres, early year’s settings and primary schools to enable teachers and educators to teach age appropriate child abuse prevention education in a safe, controlled environment to children as young as three, and also children with special needs. I have incorporated 11 children’s books as part of the Program to help educators start up these conversations. 

Below is a brief description of each of the 11 books. I consider these books to be some of the very best in teaching children protective education. They are listed in alphabetical order. 

Stay safe,
Kind regards


Actually I Can

Being a worry bunny often stops Connor from having fun. He wishes he was confident, adventurous and brave, just like his best friend Amelia. She wants him to worry less and laugh more. By going on an adventure, Connor discovers that he actually can!
A Nice Walk in the Jungle

Tim repeatedly tries to warn his teacher on the class nature walk through the jungle, that they are being followed by a very hungry boa constrictor, until it is almost too late. This is a great book for teaching the concept of persistence.
A Terrible Thing Happened

Sherman Smith saw a terrible thing happened. We never learn what the terrible thing was but this book can open up conversations about what could have been happening in Sherman's life and also talk about his Early Warning Signs. There are so many great lessons it this book.
Everyone’s Got a Bottom

‘Everyone’s got a bottom’ is probably my favourite of all the books. It teaches children about their private body parts and the whole way through the book is the saying “from my head to my toes, I say what goes” which is such an empowering message for children.
Hayden-Reece Learns a Valuable Lesson That Private Means “Just for You”

Miss Martin teaches her class the difference between Public and Private and explains that no one should see or touch your private body parts, and that Private means ‘Just for you’. This book will help both parents and teachers explain this important subject so that children of all ages will understand the difference between public and private, and how that applies to them personally in their daily lives.
Matilda Learns a Valuable Lesson

Matilda learns that if you feel unsafe, you need to tell an adult you trust to help you feel safe again. She also learns the importance of persisting in telling when seeking help. This book helps parents and teachers talk with children about unwanted touching and self-protection, in a gentle and meaningful way.
My Body Belongs to Me

“My Body Belongs to Me” if someone touches your private parts, you need to tell someone on your Safety Team.
No Means No!

'No Means No!' is about an empowered little girl who has a very strong and clear voice in all issues, especially those relating to her body and personal boundaries.
No Secrets Between Us

Sammie learns that telling a trusted adult is the right thing to do when she needs help.
Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept

Sir Alfred has a terrible secret about private touching. Unsafe secrets must always be told.
Uncle Willy’s Tickles

A story about "your body belongs to you" and a child's right to say no. It is designed to help children learn about body boundaries and learn to express themselves when they don't like something, even if that something is as benign as the tickles of a trusted adult.

Product of the month
The Safe4Kids Protective Education Program has been designed for early years educators, in childcare centres, family daycare, play groups, home-schooling groups, and also for primary school teachers. The program is appropriate for children aged from three years, and for children with special needs.

It is culturally sensitive and children are taught age-appropriate abuse-prevention education concepts, and given the opportunity to practise these new skills in a safe, controlled environment.

It is linked to the Early Years Learning Framework for Australia

It is linked to the National Quality Framework

It promotes collaborative partnerships with families and communities. Included in the program is a Families Newsletter for each concept, so families are informed about what the children will be learning each week.


Safe4kids Training Programs

Holly-ann provides specialised training for teachers, childcare educators and parents to provide them with skills and practical ideas for teaching Protective Education to children. You can begin to implement this program in your school, childcare centre or at home with a basic information session. In two hours you will gain enough knowledge to start teaching your children and begin modeling the language, concepts and strategies of child abuse prevention education.

Basic Training is a two hour professional development for teachers and childcare educators, presented by Holly-ann Martin as an introduction to her ten-week lesson plan.

Classroom Mentoring is also available for more detailed and practical training for teachers. 

Parent Information Session is a two hour session packed with fantastic ideas for parents to begin practicing pro-active behaviour and language with their children at home.

Holly-ann is also available for customised in-house training and consulting by request.

If you would like more information about training, or would like to engage Holly-ann as a speaker at your event, please contact her directly at  or Phone: (08) 9497 7685 or 0422971189

Copyright © 2016 Safe4Kids, All rights reserved.

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