Explain that, “Sometimes the people kids care about have problems.”

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. As part of our global efforts to help protect kids from abuse, bullying, and other harmful behavior, each day this month, we will share a time-tested skill from our Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook.

Skill #14: What To Do If An Adult Acts Unsafely. Studies show that most abuse is caused by people kids know. However, it puts upsetting images in a child’s mind to say, “By the way, the person most likely to harm you is someone you love and trust.” Instead, as soon as a child can understand, teach them why it’s important to not keep problems a secret and how to get help. Here’s an emotionally safe way to explain to kids about adults with problems.

This full practice is a part of the Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook.

Most abuse is caused by people kids know. However, it is not emotionally safe to tell children, “By the way, the person most likely to harm you is someone you love and trust.” It is not safe to put upsetting images in kids’ minds.

Instead, teach all kids not to keep problems a secret and how to get help. As soon as a child can understand, explain, “Sometimes the people kids love have problems. And sometimes their problems are so big that they do things that hurt kids or are unsafe. If this happens to you or to a kid you know, remember that this is NOT the kid’s fault. It does not mean anyone is bad, but it DOES mean that everyone has problems and need help. The way to get help is to find an adult you trust and keep telling until someone understands and does something to help.”

Practice by having a child repeat after you, “When someone I care about does something unsafe, it is NOT my fault and we DO need help.”

Tell a young child five different people, one for each finger of her hand, that they might go to for help.

Help an older child think of at least five different people they might go to for help.

Say, “What if I was gone on a trip? Who else? What if this person didn’t understand. Who else?”

Pretend to be a busy adult and coach the child to interrupt you and say, “Excuse me. I have a safety problem. Someone I care about has problems and is not being safe and we need help.”

Say, “Thank you for interrupting me. I will help you.”

For a FREE explanation on the simple methods you can use to teach children to use each of these skills, download the Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook on our website –this ebook will be FREE of charge in English, Spanish, and Arabic in honor of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Please share this skill with others. Let’s work together to teach young people to take charge of their safety, increase self-confidence, and develop healthy, positive relationships! 

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Published: April 14, 2019   |   Last Updated: April 14, 2019

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.