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Keeping yourself safe from child abuse

abuse; unsafe; secrets; network; safety; safe; secret; touching; yelling; hurting; bullying; harassing; hitting; rude; trust; feelings; harassment; cyber; cyberbullying; cyber bullying; domestic; violence;


What if?

  • What if someone was yelling at you?
  • what ifWhat if someone was hurting you or another young person in your family?
  • What if you felt uncomfortable about the way someone was touching you or asking you to touch them?
  • What if bigger people were fighting?
  • What if someone asked you to keep a secret and you felt uncomfortable or yucky about it? What if someone did something rude and said you mustn't tell?
  • What if someone is sending you nasty email messages or text messages on your mobile?
  • What if you are not properly cared for at home?

How could you keep yourself safe?

Before you even think about what you would do in any of these situations, remember – everyone has the right to feel safe all the time.

Who can help?

Think about the people you trust most in the world. These people could be your mum, dad, caregiver, grandma, grandad, your teacher, your auntie or uncle, or an older brother or sister?

Now think of other people who you may not know but you think you can trust because of the job that they do. They may be policemen or women, the minister or leader of your church, temple or synagogue, your parents' friends, your friends' parents, etc.

keeping safe

When you have thought of all the people you can trust, choose at least 5 who you feel you can trust the most because they care about you and you feel comfortable talking to them about your problems or things that are worrying you. They could become your 'trusted adults'.

  • Ask these people if they are happy to be a person you can talk with.
  • Make sure that you have their phone numbers - put them into your mobile phone.
  • These people will become your network to help you keep yourself safe.
  • Now that you have your network, you are on the way to keeping yourself safe.

Nothing is so awful that you can't talk to someone about it.

When you have a problem and you're not sure what to do:

  • Get away from whatever is happening.
  • Tell an adult you can trust.
  • Talk it over with someone in your network.
  • Keep on telling different people in your network if your problem is not being fixed.

Handling the problem

Yelling and swearing, pushing around, hitting and damaging someone's body can all be kinds of abuse.

Some kids live with this sort of thing happening to them in their homes.

Abuse happens in all kinds of homes. Some people try to blame the victim for the abuse - saying something like 'You made me do ....'.

If you or your friend are being abused like this, it's wrong and it's never the fault of the kid being abused.

What could you do?
Tell someone in your network of trusted adults, and keep telling until something is done to help you.
keeping safe

Some kids live with bullying and harassment happening at school.

What could you do?

  • Tell the person who is bullying or harassing you that you are going to report what they are doing to the teacher and to your parents.
  • Then do it!
  • Keep telling until the problem is dealt with and you feel safe.

This is not 'telling tales' or 'tattling' or 'dobbing.' It is keeping yourself safe, and you have the right to do that.

Some kids find themselves around bigger people who fight or hurt each other.

What can you or your friends do?

  1. Get out of the way and go to a safe place eg. your room, a friend's house.
  2. Don't try to 'help' or you could be hurt.
  3. When everyone is calm again, tell them how you feel about their fighting.
  4. Talk with someone in your network.
  5. Talk to your teacher or school counsellor.

You can try to keep yourself safe. Telling someone how you feel about their fighting or hurting each other may help them to think about other ways of solving their problems.

Telling someone in your network may help the person being hurt and keep you safe too.

Touching - safe or unsafe?

Hugging your mum or dad, cuddling the cat or holding hands with a friend are all safe kinds of touching.

Tickling or being tickled can be fun.

But sometimes you may feel uncomfortable about being touched by someone, you may feel confused or scared, and maybe the touching is hurting you.

If the person who is touching you doesn't stop when you ask them to - then that may be abuse.

If someone is asking you to touch them in 'rude' places, then that is abuse.

What can you do?

  • Tell the person very loudly that you want them to stop.
  • Get louder if they don't stop and tell them that you will tell your mum or dad or some other trusted adult.
  • Get away.
  • Tell someone you trust.

Remember that your body is your body and if touching is making you feel uncomfortable, then you have the right to say stop.

If the touching is of your most 'private' parts (which are usually covered by your underclothes, eg. penis, vagina, breasts, anus) or your mouth, then make sure that you tell someone you trust.

The person touching you may try to trick you into believing that this is a safe secret, but don't be fooled.

It's an unsafe secret and it's OK to tell about unsafe secrets.

Secrets - safe or unsafe?

Sharing a secret with someone can be fun – like knowing about a special present for someone in your family, or a special treat that you are helping to plan for a friend.

You can feel all happy and excited about these kinds of secrets.

But you may feel unsafe about some secrets.

  • These secrets are when someone tells you that something bad will happen to you or your family or your friends if you tell.
  • You can become worried and afraid from these secrets.
  • No one has the right to do something, then try to make you feel responsible for their actions.
  • No one has the right to do something so that you feel unsafe.

Talk things over with someone on your network and ask for their help.

keeping safeSometimes an adult or older person may do something rude and then try to make you promise not to tell.

  • Maybe they'll tell you that it is your fault.
  • Maybe they'll say that no one will believe you.
  • Maybe they'll try to get you to feel bad or guilty.

What could you do?

  • Don't believe them. You can't be responsible for what other people do (especially adults).
  • Talk to someone in your network and ask for help.
  • Keep talking to different people until you get help.

What if the person is someone in your family

  • Most often when someone does something rude to a child, the person is someone in the family (a cousin, uncle, step-parent, grandparent).
  • This person may tell the child that his or her parent or carer won't believe the child and that the child will get into terrible trouble.
  • No child has to keep bad secrets like this.
  •  Tell someone you trust. It may feel safe if you tell someone outside your family first - such as your teacher or school counsellor.
  • Usually the family is very angry with the person who does this to a child. They want to help the child.
  • Keep telling until something is done and you can feel safe again.

Email or phone messages

Maybe you are getting nasty messages on your mobile phone or on email? This is harassment and you need to tell someone.

  • Be careful not to give out your email address to anyone except your closest friends.
  • Ask them to never send a message from you to another person without deleting your address first.
  • See out topic The internet for some ideas to keep you safe.

Some schools have a special program to help you learn how to keep yourself safe. You learn to think of different ways to keep yourself safe and practise solving different problems like those we just talked about. Tell the people on your network what you are learning. They may be able to take part in the program too.

Suffering neglect

Every family can have hard times but it's the parent or caregiver's job to make sure that kids have food, a warm bed, clean clothes, and go to school.

When they do not provide for their children in these ways it is called neglect.

Talk to your trusted adults and keep talking until things improve.

Drs Kate and Kim say:


  • Dr Kate and Dr KimPeople who try to blame you or make you feel ashamed about something they have done are wrong. It is not your fault.
  • Always talk to adults that you know and trust.
  • Make sure you tell more than one person in your network and keep telling until you get some help for yourself or whoever is being abused.

Wherever you live in Australia, you can talk to people who can help you by calling the Kid's Helpline 1800 551 800 (it doesn't cost any money).

In South Australia you could also call the Child Abuse Report Line 13 14 78.

In Australia, each state has its own report line. This page on the Kid's Helpline site has a list of each of the report lines. 'Child abuse'

If you don't live in Australia, look in the telephone book where you live to find the number of your Kids Helpline.

Keep yourself safe

Respect others and yourself too.
Trust your feelings
Your body knows you.
Unsafe secrets can make you 'feel bad'
Talk to your 'network'
Don't feel guilty or sad.
If someone mistreats you
Don't feel ashamed.
Keep telling about it,
So the guilty are blamed.
You own your body
Keep it healthy and clean,
And keep yourself safe
From folks who are mean.

Keeping safe

People who are yelling at you
Are doing the wrong thing.
If they abuse you, it's too much,
You feel at the end of your string.
To keep away from being hurt
You need someone to talk to,
Someone to listen and help you through.
So this is what you do.
Make yourself a network
To help you with your fears.
People who care and understand
Who'll help you dry your tears.
Keeping safe is what you'll do
To make your dreams come true.



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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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