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Every person was born with mana, everyone is sacred, and no-one was born to be abused.

(Egan-Bitran, 2022)

Together we CAN prevent child sexual abuse!

Haere mai welcome, parents and caregivers, to our shared mission of safeguarding children and young people (tamariki and rangatahi) from the devastating impact of sexual abuse. Our primary objective is to prevent such abuse from occurring in the first place.

Where does child sexual abuse occur?

Abuse can and does frequently happen in the following places and it is important to remember that the key message here is that generally the abuser is known to the child or young person, the abuser has to have access to the child.

  • Abuse can happen at home. This includes by family members or close friends of the family, by someone you know and trust.
  • Abuse can happen in school.
  • Abuse can happen at church or in a religious setting.
  • Abuse can happen in the places our children and young people go. For example, in sports, theatre, and other extracurricular activities.
  • Abuse can happen online. This could be by a stranger or someone your child knows. We need to get up to speed with the technological lives of children.

We want you to think about where your children go, the youth groups, sports clubs, holiday programmes – what policies and procedures do they have to safeguard your children and young people?

Remember, that people of all genders perpetrate child sexual abuse, however International and New Zealand research does identify the majority of perpetrators are male. The evidence also shows that perpetrators of sexual abuse are more commonly in a position of trust like a school teacher, a sports coach, an after school club leader or a babysitter. It’s a position of trust because parents trust that person to look after their children appropriately. This link contains much of that evidence: The Australian Institute of Family Studies Resource Sheet

Abusers use these positions of trust to abuse children and young people and because they are trusted, the abuse goes on unseen.

A relationship between an adult and a child or young person is always an imbalance of power, and a position of power and influence over a child can be easily abused. We must look beyond the impression a person gives to what their actual behaviour is.


It is important that you are alert to grooming behaviours particularly of staff or volunteers of an organisation or group, as well as any person they observe engaging in these behaviours towards a child or young person. Any organisation or group should have a child protection policy and procedures as well as a code of conduct which they should refer to for guidance on how to respond to such indicators and concerns.

Red Flag Child Sexual Grooming Behaviours

Why parents and caregivers should get involved

As a parent or caregiver, you hold a unique position of influence in your child’s life. By actively engaging in this year’s theme of preventing child sexual abuse, you can make a significant impact on your child’s safety, wellbeing and future.

We must start to be okay with the uncomfortable knowledge that child sexual abuse is happening around us in places of familiarity, including our work places, within families we know personally or within our own, and our communities around us.

Here are some ways you can get involved in preventing and addressing child sexual abuse

Educating yourself about the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse enables you to be vigilant and better equipped to identify any potential red flags. Early recognition is crucial in preventing further harm and providing timely response and support to your child or other children impacted.
Getting involved in child safeguarding conversations encourages open communication within your family. By fostering an environment where your child or young person feels comfortable discussing sensitive topics, you can establish trust and create opportunities for them to seek support if they ever face an uncomfortable situation. Use this book to assist in these discussions and to assist your child to understand the issues relevant for their age:’

MY BODY MY TAONGA Body Safety with Rāwiri and Ruby
Written by Rosalind Harrison and illustrated by Suzanne Simpson
(Suitable for children aged 4.5 – 9 years)
To order your book please go to using the code NZSUPPORT to receive a 15% discount.

Your actions and behaviours shape your child’s understanding of healthy relationships, boundaries and respect. By modeling respectful behaviour, teaching consent and fostering empathy, you can lay the foundation for preventing child sexual abuse.
By educating yourself about child sexual abuse prevention, you can empower your child with age-appropriate knowledge and skills to protect themselves. Equipping them with essential information helps build their resilience and gives them the confidence to recognise, resist and report potential abuse. Empowerment Trust runs courses for parents and children which provide this skill based learning. The book MY BODY MY TAONGA provides children with the knowledge to:

  • Understand privacy and body boundaries, know who their trusted adults are.
  • Learn how to recognise types of unsafe behaviour including bribes, threats and unsafe secrets.
  • Understand that unsafe behaviour can come from an adult, a peer, someone they know or a stranger.

Trust their instincts and learn the plan of Stop, Walk and Talk.
MY BODY MY TAONGA Body Safety with Rāwiri and Ruby
Written by Rosalind Harrison and illustrated by Suzanne Simpson
(Suitable for children aged 4.5 – 9 years)
To order your book please go to using the code NZSUPPORT to receive a 15% discount.

As a parent, you have the power to advocate for safe environments in your child’s school, community and extracurricular activities. By actively participating in discussions, downloading our Supporter Toolkit and sharing our social media posts during Child Safeguarding Week, you can collaborate with other parents, educators and community leaders to promote policies and practices that prioritise child safety.
Engaging in Child Safeguarding Week activities helps raise community awareness about child sexual abuse prevention. By participating and sharing information with other parents and promoting discussions, you contribute to a collective effort aimed at creating a society that prioritises the safety and wellbeing of all children.
Be aware of what is age expected sexual behaviour for children, what may be concerning sexual behaviour and what to do about it. Visit Stop’s website for clear and non-judgemental guidance on this.

Be safe online - steps you can take to keep your kids safe

Children and young people find the internet an easy place to explore their identity, to challenge adult norms and boundaries, experiment with relationships and practice a range of behaviours. While this can be positive, unfortunately, many of the negative consequences and implications of these things are amplified online.

Netsafe’s research has identified that nearly 19% of New Zealand teens have experienced an unwanted digital communication that had a negative impact on their daily activities. The same research identified that most teens response to an unwanted contact was to block the person, ignore the situation or report the problem to an adult.

While the challenges children and young people face varies depending on their age and what they do online, some of the key challenges every parent or caregiver should know about are:

  • Online bullying
  • Unwanted contact
  • Social media
  • Sexting
  • Inappropriate content

These seven steps from Netsafe’s Online Safety Parent Toolkit provide guidance to help parents and caregivers like yourself to increase your digital parenting knowledge:

Read about the potential online risks, challenges and sometimes illegal behaviour young people face to understand what may happen.
Ask your child about what they do, who they talk to and how they use devices to learn about their activities. Check in regularly to see what has changed.
Children often explore various websites and apps that differ from those used by their parents, making it challenging to keep up in this ever-evolving digital landscape. Take the time yourself to explore the sites, apps and technologies your child uses to improve your knowledge and understand their experience.
Engage in discussions with children about their perceptions of normal online behaviour and what to expect from others as well as themselves. Encourage them to think critically and question the content they encounter online. Talk about reliable sources of information, the existence of fake news, fake followers and scams. Help them cultivate a healthy skepticism towards people’s identities online.

Share your wisdom and experiences regarding relationships. Teach them that sometimes individuals may initially seem kind but later exhibit mean behaviour. Assure them that they can openly discuss these situations with you, without fear of panic or punishment. Guide them on how to report any concerning behaviour they come across online. For example, familiarise them with the appropriate channels to report such incidents through Netsafe.

Create a family code with your child to agree on what they can do online including sites to visit, appropriate behaviours, privacy settings and limits.

Recognise each child and young person has unique needs, but some online safety concepts are universal.
Be a good example to your child. Make sure you role model the sort of behaviours you want to see your child use online and offline. Have a think about the way technology is used by people in your home. Think about if there are patterns, behaviours or activities that might need to be rethought. Are phones used at the table? How do you talk or post online?

It can be hard to set expectations for family when you are not doing it yourself. Discuss some of the key safety aspects with your child, but make sure you’re doing it too. Most social media organisations have a safety centre with tools for staying safe online that you might find handy.

Make a plan so everybody knows what to do if something goes wrong and where you will be able to get advice and support in challenging times.

By encouraging these conversations and sharing your knowledge, we can equip children and young people with the skills needed to navigate the digital realm responsibly and ensure their online safety.

Family Safety Plan - protecting children from sexual abuse

To protect your child from sexual abuse it is important to create a family safety plan. Understanding risk factors and their indicators is vital in this process. Risk factors refer to circumstances that increase the likelihood of someone sexually abusing a child, such as close proximity or lack of supervision.

  • Help them understand what is acceptable behaviour and assure them that they can always tell us if someone makes them feel uncomfortable or worried, even if they couldn’t say no at the time.
  • Respect privacy for everyone in the family, including during dressing, bathing, and personal activities.
  • Teach children to say no when they don’t want to participate in certain activities like playing, tickling, or hugging. It is really important that you build a trusting relationship with your children where they feel comfortable talking about both good and bad things. We listen to their fears and concerns, assuring them that they can always share anything with us without worrying.
  • All children and young people should be heard and their preferences respected, including young children.
  • Choose babysitters carefully and avoid leaving children with anyone you have concerns about. If a child is unhappy with a specific person, talk to them about the reasons why.

Starting conversations about these topics with children can be challenging. Talk to other parents for ideas that have worked for them.

Remember the SMART rules for important conversations:

Fun secrets are fine, but if they make you feel sad or confused, talk to a trusted adult.
Stick together and bring a friend when going somewhere.
Always let your parents or trusted individuals know where you’re going, who you’re with, and when you’ll be back.
Respect your body and understand that certain areas are private. No one should touch those areas covered by a swimsuit.
Share with your parents or trusted individuals if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or scared.

And remember as parents or caregivers it is important to get help if you suspect something is wrong, don’t wait for evidence and think “What if I am right?” instead of “What if I am wrong?”

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