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Prevention Resources:


Learn the risk factors that may increase your child’s vulnerability to sexual abuse, and, where possible, actively work to reduce those risks.
Monitoring your child’s activities and environments does not mean constant surveillance. It also doesn’t mean being with your child every second of every day, controlling their every move, and alleviating every risk they may come up against. With this awareness—both the general risk factors your child experiences, as well as your child’s individual needs and situation—you may find ways to increase their safety while also allowing them the room to carve out their own identity. Instead, monitoring is about being aware.

Monitoring helps teach your child to interact with people and environments in ways that don’t detract from their safety. Rather than following their every move or trying to catch them doing something wrong, here are some ways to monitor your child to help reduce the risk of sexual abuse.

We recommend that you Monitor:

Who Your Child Spends Time With
The interactions your child has with others, with the goal of knowing who, where, when, and what these interactions include.
Risk factors
Your child’s well-being, observing vulnerabilities, behaviors, and other factors that may elevate risk to your child.
Grooming techniques
Texts, email, communication apps, chats, social media, and other means of interaction that are less visible and could create opportunities for grooming.
Online Safety
Your child’s online activities, interactions, and behaviors with the understanding that what happens online often carries over into other aspects of their lives.
Note: Parents can take every precaution possible and still see their loved ones impacted by abuse. If this speaks to your experience, we encourage you to keep reading. The principles listed below apply to supporting your child’s healing and reducing the risk of sexual abuse in the future.

How Well Do I Know the People Who Spend Time with My Child?

Knowing that meaningful relationships—whether with adult figures, peers, or older youth—are essential to a child’s well-being, but that opportunities for bonding can also bring increase exposure to harm, here are a few ways you can reduce risk.


Know Your Child’s Contacts

  • Keep track of who your child interacts with, both online and offline.
  • When your child is spending time outside of your home, ask questions to learn who else will be present.
  • Inquire about background checks for coaches, instructors, group leaders, and other mentors who work with your child.
  • Update this inventory as your child engages in new groups, activities, and interests.


Communicate Boundaries

  • Clearly communicate your expectations for boundaries regarding contact with your child. Here are some examples:
    • "Make sure to loop me in/include me on all text, email, or other communications you have with my child."
    • "If you want to drive our child home from soccer practice, call to ask us first so we can get more details, including who else will be in the car."
  • Initiate a conversation with anyone who crosses a boundary with your child or demonstrates behavior that is concerning to you.
  • Invite people in your child’s life to take an active role in keeping your child safe from child sexual abuse.


Talk with Your Child

  • Ask open-ended questions about your child’s day, including who they spent time with, how that time was spent, and how they feel about that person.
  • Encourage your child to tell you about anything that might’ve made them feel weird, worried, or uncomfortable, and include reassurances they won’t get in trouble for what they share.
  • Make it clear to your child that no one should ask them to keep secrets from you, especially secrets involving guilt or fear.
  • Remind your child often that you will love and support them no matter what.



  • Communicate with individuals who will be supervising activities your child will be involved in.
  • Check in periodically on your child’s internet activity and digital communications.
  • Minimize your child’s unnecessary one-on-one time with others.
  • Help your child understand why it’s important for you to know where they’ll be, who will be there, when they’ll be home, and other information you may need.
Risk is highest when another individual has ongoing, unmonitored access to your child, which explains why a child is far less likely to be sexually abused by a stranger than by someone within their family, neighborhood, or community circle. In fact, in 80% of cases, children report knowing the person who abused them.1 And, it is also important to know that over half of survivors of child sexual abuse were abused by juveniles.2 Boys, for instance, are more likely to be sexually abused by a peer acquaintance and girls are more likely to be abused by a romantic partner.3 What that means for you is that you’ll want to be aware of all the individuals who have a place in your child’s life—including relationships with peers and other youth.
of cases, children report knowing the person who abused them.

How Are My Child’s Vulnerabilities Risk Factors?

No matter what vulnerabilities a child experiences, they are never responsible or at fault for being sexually abused. True prevention lies in a perpetrator’s decision to not abuse a child. The responsibility of such abuse lies solely with them, never the victim. That being said, knowledge can be an empowering tool when it comes to protecting children who are more likely to be targeted. By being aware of what vulnerabilities place a child at higher risk, parents can be more equipped to understand and navigate those vulnerabilities.

Which Groups Experience Higher Risk?

Children with Low-Self-Esteem

Children with low self-esteem are vulnerable due to an intensified need for affection, admiration, approval, and acceptance. This is especially true for children who are targets of bullying or whose parents display low self-esteem. Children with low self-esteem are more likely to be drawn to those who offer flattery, gifts, or special attention. They may have difficulty understanding that their boundaries, body, and voice should be respected. Perpetrators may exploit this low self-esteem to isolate or keep the child quiet, perhaps communicating that the child is to blame and/or that the abuse is the only type of affection the child deserves. Conversely, a perpetrator may suggest that the sexual abuse is a result of their special relationship or connection with the child, something that may cause the victim to believe that what they’re experiencing is a form of favoritism.

Children in a Stressful Home Environment

Children with low self-confidence in their surroundings, particularly at home, are more vulnerable to an adult who promises stability and security, even if the stability comes with other unwanted behaviors. This is especially the case for children whose homelife is characterized by high levels of marital conflict, low parent-child bonding, parents with alcohol or substance abuse problems, and various forms of abuse, neglect, and maltreatment.4 Children with a stressful home life may also feel that they cannot confide in a parent because the parent is already burdened with so many problems and may not respond well.

If you can relate to any of the above, please know that there are programs and services that can provide you and your family with the support needed to adjust your current path.

Note: If you are in a domestic abuse relationship, get help immediately. Do what you can to remove your child from the unstable and/or threatening environment as soon as possible. Likewise, if you have addiction issues with drugs or alcohol, seek help immediately. Resources are available at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Crisis Text Line, and at

Children with Disabilities

Sadly, children with a disability are at least three times more likely to be sexually abused.5 There are multiple reasons behind this fact, including the child’s needs for personal care, a desire for acceptance, a reliance on others, an inability to escape due to physical limitations, an inability to disclose due to limitations in communication, and possible difficulties with understanding boundaries, body privacy, and healthy sexuality. While this information can be disheartening, there are ways that parents can help reduce the risk, including establishing open communication habits, teaching about appropriate boundaries, and/or providing a way for a child to report abuse that sufficiently meets their communication needs.

Children Who Identify as LGBTQ+

Children who identify as LGBTQ+ or are in the process of understanding their sexual and/or gender identity can be at risk of feeling socially isolated and alienated from their peers. In fact, LGBTQ+ you are nearly four times as likely as their peers to experience child sexual abuse.6 They are also at a higher risk of experiencing various forms of abuse online, including sexualized bullying, sextortion, and unwanted sexual advances.7 The fear, uncertainty, shame, and ostracism an LGBTQ+ youth may experience can contribute to feeling like an outsider with no emotional support. A perpetrator may exploit this vulnerability and seek to convince the youth that they are the only one who will ever understand and accept them. Additionally, when a child is afraid to open up to their parents about their sexuality, a perpetrator can weaponize that secret to isolate the child further and prevent them from seeking help. It may be helpful to learn more specifics about how you can protect LGBTQ+ youth from being victimized.

Children in Blended Families

In a blended family, communication and relationships can be complicated. There may be disagreements among parents on how to educate about boundaries, conflict resolution, privacy, and healthy sexuality. Tension among family members and stepfamily members may lead to more conflict in the home, which may lead to children having lower confidence in their environment. And while blended families allow the opportunity to form meaningful, long-lasting relationships, with more people in the home who have ongoing access to a child, these dynamics may increase that child’s chances of being sexually abused, be it by an adult (a step-parent, a live-in partner) or a peer (a step-sibling).8 Being aware of this dynamic and having ways to keep communication open with your children will be especially important.

Children Who Experience Loneliness

As social creatures, we all experience loneliness from time to time. However, a child who experiences prolonged states of loneliness—including a perceived lack of support, attachment, and connection—is at a higher risk of being sexually abused. Feelings of neglect, isolation, and alienation can have a significant impact on a child’s well-being and self-worth and can greatly increase their vulnerability to the attention offered by an individual who is grooming them. This is because a crucial step in a perpetrator’s grooming is isolating the child from their loved ones, both emotionally and physically. If a child is already feeling isolated, this step will be much easier for a perpetrator to achieve. Also, if a child is left alone or unsupervised on a frequent basis, a perpetrator has more opportunities to get close to that child.9 If you’re concerned about your child’s ongoing feelings of loneliness, it may be beneficial to seek the help of a mental health practitioner.

How Can High-Risk Behaviors Affect My Child’s Vulnerability?

Sometimes, children who struggle with one or more of the vulnerabilities listed above may resort to high-risk behaviors to cope with the loneliness, anxiety, or fear they are experiencing. These behaviors are referred to as “high-risk” because they increase the likelihood of a child being placed in a dangerous situation that may pose threats such as sexual abuse. The most common high-risk behaviors among children and youth include:

Alcohol and/or substance use

Children may resort to alcohol and/or substances to numb or disconnect from painful emotions. They may also be seeking ways to impress or be accepted by their peers. While such substances can provide a temporary escape or sense of belonging, they may also hinder a youth’s ability to make informed decisions, recognize red flags, and respond to potential threats. In an altered or unconscious state, youth are significantly more vulnerable to the sexually abusive behaviors of others. They may also feel they cannot disclose abuse to a parent if alcohol or drug use was present, perhaps fearing punishment, disappointment, or victim-blaming. Potential perpetrators may also weaponize a youth’s alcohol or substance use as blackmail, threatening to expose the “shameful secret” if the youth doesn’t comply with sexual demands, or may trade substances in exchange for sexual acts.

Risky sexual interactions

Youth may seek out acceptance, connection, or temporary escape by engaging in risky sexual interactions. These interactions may increase the likelihood of a youth experiencing physical, sexual, or emotional harm. Some examples include sexual activity with multiple partners, sexual activity with strangers or people whom the youth doesn’t know well, sexual intercourse without protection, and sexual situations involving drugs or alcohol. Online examples include sexting, cybersex, and/or performing sexual behaviors in front of a webcam. These and other types of hazardous sexual interactions place the youth at risk of being targeted by a perpetrator and/or becoming trapped in an abusive dynamic, including being trafficked for sex. They also increase the risk of a youth becoming the victim of sextortion, cyberbullying, image-based sexual abuse (the non-consensual sharing of intimate images), and other forms of tech-facilitated harms.

While these behaviors and the risks they pose can feel alarming, it’s helpful to remember that neither you nor your child are perfect, and that many of these behaviors may be a youth’s means of trying to cope with or regulate painful emotions.

The good news is that no one cares more about your child than you do. Your ability to recognize what may place them at risk—and the support you can offer to mitigate that risk—can make all the difference in a child’s safety. Trust your gut as you assess your child’s needs. And remember that what’s most important is to be there for your child, let them know how much you love them, and keep being the amazing parent that you are.

What Is Grooming?

Grooming involves specific behaviors that are intended to prime a child for sexual abuse. Often, individuals who attempt these behaviors are already known to the family and a part of the child’s life. They may be an acquaintance, a trusted family friend, a neighbor, a babysitter, or even a relative. They may be someone the family knows through an organization or youth activity, such as a church leader, a music instructor, a soccer coach, a camp counselor, or a school teacher.

Whatever role the individual already has in a child’s life, they will oftentimes employ grooming behaviors to gain further access to the child. This may also involve grooming—or gaining trust from—the child’s family, neighbors, and other adults who may, in the groomer’s mind, pose a barrier to getting close to the child. To this end, groomers may present themselves as charming, charismatic, reliable, and trustworthy. In some instances, like in religious organizations, sports programs, or other institutions with hierarchies, they may hold titles or authorities that place them in a position of power and respect within the community.

While it's not always easy to identify a potential perpetrator, there are specific tactics that a perpertrator will use to groom a child.

What Are Signs of Grooming?

Below are some common grooming tactics that parents can keep an eye out for:


Gaining the Child’s Trust

Building trust is a foundational part of any relationship, including relationships between children and adults who provide positive mentorship and support. The difference between a caring, well-meaning adult and a potential perpetrator is that a perpetrator will use trust as a means of getting close to and eventually isolating the child. Perpetrators may seek to earn a child’s trust by building a friendly rapport, singling the child out as “special,” and showing interest in the child’s hobbies, passions, and pursuits.

They may ask a lot of questions about the child’s life, including questions about their family, friends, and daily routine. The perpetrator may also treat the child as a trusted confidante, sharing secrets, vulnerabilities, or concerns with the child, then encourage the child to do the same in return. They may use statements like “I’ve never told anyone that before,” or “I feel like I can tell you anything.”

During this stage, a perpetrator is also assessing risk and identifying any vulnerabilities they can exploit. For instance, if a perpetrator realizes that a child is feeling marginalized or alienated, they may offer assurances of love, acceptance, and understanding.


Communicating Secretly

Because secrecy is key to grooming a child for sexual abuse, groomers will seek out and initiate ways to communicate with a child privately. Oftentimes they will communicate with a child online, perhaps through a child’s email, text messages, or social media platform. They may gift the child with a cellphone or another internet device. Such devices not only increase the groomer’s access to the child but also provide more opportunities and methods to groom via texts, calls, exchanged photos and videos, etc. These online channels of communication will often coincide with or help facilitate in-person interactions between the groomer and the child. Whatever modes of communication are used, a groomer will repeatedly encourage the child to keep their interactions “just between us” or “our little secret.”


Offering Gifts, Bribes, and Flattery

Gifts and bribes may be used by the adult as a means of “proving” their affection and making the child feel special. These grand gestures often facilitate or escalate the grooming process (such as the secret cellphone mentioned above) and/or to pressure the child to do certain things as a show of gratitude for the adult’s generosity. For instance, after buying a child an expensive webcam, the adult may then tell the child to put their new gift to good use by stripping or performing other sexual acts in front of it. In response, the child may feel a sense of obligation, indebtedness, or fear of the gift being taken away.

Gifts can also be used to drive a wedge between the child and their parents, especially if the gifts are expensive or deemed something “your parents would never get you.” A groomer might also warn that the child’s gifts will be taken away by the parents “if they ever found out about us.”

Flattery, like gifts and bribes, can be employed to make the child feel valued, appreciated, and desired. It may begin with compliments about the child’s talents, personality, or intellect, before becoming more targeted and sexualized. Flattery may also be the groomer’s gateway attempt to make the child “feel good” before easing the victim into more physical and sexual situations.


Testing Boundaries

Grooming is often a gradual, subtle, and methodical process that escalates over time— particularly once trust is established. This means perpetrators are unlikely to initiate sexual contact with a child right away. Rather, they’ll ease into sexual behaviors slowly, testing the child’s boundaries to assess risk and gauge the child’s comfort levels.

This might involve telling an off-color joke or making sexualized comments to see how the child responds. It may involve sitting the child in their lap or initiating other forms of seemingly harmless touch, like tickling, wrestling, or snuggling, that eventually escalate into more inappropriate gestures, like petting, fondling, or groping. The groomer may try to play sexualized games with the child, such as truth-or-dare, “pantsing,” or strip games. They may test the child’s sense of privacy by entering their bedroom or bathroom, perhaps offering to help them change, bathe, or complete another task that the child would typically do alone. Groomers can also test boundaries via online communications, such as texting a sexualized emoji, joke, or gif and then encouraging the child to do the same.


Sharing Sexually Explicit Material

Sexual material may start as lewd jokes, comments, and innuendos that, over time, become more graphic and detailed. The perpetrator may start using sexual terms more frequently around the child or shift conversations toward sexual topics. As with the other grooming tactics listed, the sharing of sexually explicit material is often facilitated through a perpetrator’s online access to the child.

They may send the child sexualized pictures, photos, or messages found online; they may start texting intimate photos or videos of themselves (what is known as sexting), and then ask the child for a photo in return. In doing so, the perpetrator is not only trying to normalize sex and accelerate the grooming process but to further distance the child from their parents. They may emphasize to the child that their parents would never approve of the material they’ve seen and would likely punish the child if they ever found out. The shared sexual content can become yet another secret that incentivizes the child to keep quiet.

Whatever the content is and however it’s shared, it’s important to note that exposing a child to any sexually explicit material is a form of child sexual abuse. For more information about non-contact forms of abuse, visit our Understand the Issue of Child Sexual Abuse page.


Isolating the Child

While every situation is unique, grooming nearly always requires some degree of isolating the child from their loved ones. When it comes to a child’s safety, there’s no greater armor than being equipped with healthy connections, open communication, and emotional support from loving, trusted figures. Groomers are aware of these protective factors and will try to remove them from the child’s life. As mentioned above, they will pressure or coerce the child into keeping secrets, especially from the parents or caregivers. They may also seek to persuade the child that no one else will truly understand or care about them—that the groomer is the only person in the child’s life whom they can truly count on. Along with gifts, flattery, and reassurances, the groomer may also employ shame or threats of punishment to emotionally isolate the child.


Employing Shame and Threats

Groomers use a variety of tactics to prevent the child from seeking help and/or telling someone about the abuse. These tactics can range from shame (“Your parents would be so disgusted if they ever found out”) to threats of harm or embarrassment (“I’ll tell everyone how much you enjoyed it”). The adult may ease into such tactics by first blaming the child for something small and then gauging how the child responds. For instance, they may test out if the child pushes back or tells an adult, rather than taking the blame.

Over time, these smaller moments of guilt can progress into threats and intimidation that increase the child’s sense of powerlessness, fear, and shame. The adult may use threats such as, “No one will believe you,” or “No one will care.” They may threaten physical harm—whether to the child or to someone the child loves.

Other threats may include denying the child further affection and comfort—particularly if the child has come to see the perpetrator as their only source of support—or the threat of punishment from parents if the child were to confide in them. The perpetrator may also threaten to reveal a secret the child has shared with them or threaten to tell the parents about the child’s alcohol and/or drug use (even if such substances were offered by the perpetrator as a grooming tactic). Whatever the threat may be, the perpetrator’s purpose remains the same: to make the child feel like they can’t seek help.

As you become more informed about common grooming tactics perpetrators use, you can more easily identify when something doesn’t seem right. Trust your gut; if you notice a red flag, investigate the situation further.

Online Predators and Their Tactics

In today’s digital world, technology is an integral part of everyday life, providing endless tools to enhance education, connection, creativity, and entertainment. While kids need to learn how to navigate through this new digital landscape and become skilled, knowledgeable internet users, it’s also worth noting that increased access to technology can lead to potential risks regarding sexual abuse. Mobile technologies—like cellphones, tablets, and other devices—create opportunities for kids to communicate privately with everyone from close friends to complete strangers. Such connection comes with the added risk of interacting with someone who is using technology to groom a potential victim.

To better understand the risks children face online, it’s helpful to learn some of the biggest myths surrounding online predators.

Myth #1—Online Grooming Is Entirely Different from In-Person Grooming

Typically, online perpetrators will use many of the same grooming tactics as listed in the section above. Just as with in-person grooming, an online predator seeks to form a relationship by building rapport, gathering information, and identifying the victim’s vulnerabilities. They will then attempt to isolate the child, fostering a sense of secrecy between themselves and the victim.10

During the sexual stage, the offender will begin bringing sexual topics and behaviors into the conversation, oftentimes introducing sexually explicit material to push the child’s boundaries. They may also try to lower the child’s inhibitions by offering flattery, expressing similar interests as the child, showing sympathy towards the child’s concerns, asking about the child’s sexual experience, and expressing affection or admiration for the child. Some perpetrators may skip right to the sexual stage, introducing sexual topics early in the conversation or complimenting the victim’s physical appearance and sexual attractiveness. Whatever tactics are used, the intent remains the same: to isolate and coerce the child into sexual situations.

Myth #2—All Online Predators Want to Have Sex with Their Targets Offline

While this may be a goal for some online predators, it’s not the case for all. For some offenders, the primary goal is not to meet the child offline but to initiate other forms of sexual activity that are facilitated through internet devices, such as sexting, exhibitionism, voyeurism, and/or cybersex.11 It’s important to note that these types of non-contact behaviors do classify as child sexual abuse and can have the same harmful impacts on a child’s well-being as contact abuse. In other cases, online predators may target a victim to create and sell sexually explicit content of that victim for financial gain (sex trafficking) or to blackmail a victim into paying money to prevent an intimate photo or video from being released (sextortion).

Myth #3—Online Predators Are Strangers the Child Meets Online

When picturing an online predator, it’s easy to think of a stranger lurking over a keyboard in a dark and distant basement. However, most adults who sexually abuse online aren’t strangers to the child. Rather, they are people the child already knows, such as a neighbor, a family friend, a teacher, a religious leader, or anyone else the child may have real-world connections to. In fact, in over half of reported cases of online child sexual abuse, the perpetrator was either an acquaintance to the child or a member of the child’s family.12

Oftentimes, sexual abuse that is occurring online is happening in conjunction with abuse taking place offline. The perpetrator may have initially reached out to the child online to eventually ease them into in-person interactions. Or they may use online communications to escalate grooming that has already begun offline. Regardless of how a perpetrator first contacts the child, odds are they will try to integrate technology into the grooming process at some point. This is because a perpetrator has more access to the child online and can more easily carry on interactions with the child in secret while avoiding the attention of parents and caregivers.

Ultimately, it’s helpful for parents to remember the following:

  • Grooming tactics used online are like those used offline.
  • Online sexual offenders can abuse a child without ever meeting them in person.
  • Online sexual abuse is often perpetrated by someone the child already knows.
  • Online sexual abuse often occurs in tandem with offline abuse.

How Can I Keep My Child Safe Online?

Given that internet devices have become a central part of our daily routines, experiences, and interactions, it’s understandable for parents to feel overwhelmed by the risks youth face online. After all, smartphone usage has become nearly universal, with 95% of US teens reporting that they own a smartphone or have access to one. With internet devices remaining an integral tool for self-expression, building literacy, consuming entertainment, enhancing education, and facilitating social and romantic connections, it’s no wonder that 45% of teens report they are online on a near-constant basis.13

Below are a few strategies you can use to help your kids use technology responsibly and protect them from risks:

Set and Model Boundaries

Communicate and model what a healthy relationship with technology looks like. Explain the values that drive your family’s decisions around content consumption, social media engagement, and other internet activities. Set boundaries around screen time, access to devices, and online communications. The ultimate goal of these boundaries is not to restrict or to catch your child doing something wrong. Rather, these boundaries can help children learn to self-regulate their internet and social media use, while also allowing them the space to build their resilience, intuition, autonomy, and literacy skills in the digital era.

Educate Children About Digital Citizenship

Orienting children to the online landscape is foundational to helping them become responsible and capable internet users. Discuss with your child what a digital footprint is and how the permanence of what they post online can impact future opportunities in employment, education, and relationships. Talk about the importance of privacy, safety, and authenticity, particularly in terms of the content a youth creates and what identity they present to others. Learn about risky online behaviors and teach your child about how such behaviors can harm everyone involved.

Use Filters as Tools, Not an End-All Solution

Passcodes, content filters, and network restrictions can be helpful tools, but they are not fool-proof to reducing the risk. An over-reliance on these tools can impact levels of trust and communication between parent and child. For instance, if internet availability is severely limited on household devices, youth may seek out other sources of access, perhaps from friends or peers. Or, if a youth feels they must evade a parent’s monitoring, they may be more likely to keep secrets about their experiences online rather than confide in their parents about whatever risks, concerns, or challenges they encounter. To avoid these outcomes, parents can employ filtering tools with intention and moderation, knowing they will be most effective when paired with more long-term, sustainable strategies.

Foster Open Communication

Initiate frequent, open conversations with your child about their experiences in the online space. Invite them to ask questions, express curiosities, or voice concerns about specific content, risks, or challenges they come across. Consider how to approach conversations about sexually explicit content and what your child can do when they encounter such content. If they disclose to you any missteps or risky behaviors they’ve engaged in, listen with empathy and openness to ensure they feel comfortable confiding with you again in the future. Above all, assure the child that their safety and well-being matter most.

Be in the Know About Your Child’s Internet Habits

Being a part of your child’s life includes being aware of how they are spending their time online. While monitoring a child’s browser history can be helpful, it is equally important to understand why a specific game, activity, app, or platform is meaningful to them. Staying up to date on their online activities and engagement can help you not only be more alert to their internet use but also more involved in their hobbies, interests, and pursuits. It may also present new opportunities for quality time (e.g., playing a game app or watching a funny video with your child). Understanding why they are so invested in a specific tool or platform can help you better predict and empathize with the challenges and/or triumphs they encounter. Also, as you stay up to speed on the ever-changing landscape your child is immersed in, you can more easily recognize digital trends that pose risks and may require additional monitoring. This may include apps or platforms that contain unmonitored chat functions, live streams, shared content, and other potentially risky features.

Give Kids a Say

Technology is important to kids—many teens say it’s the primary way they communicate and find connections with friends. Setting strict rules without getting input from your kids can backfire. Have a conversation where you explain how important their well-being is to you and together create a plan to keep them safe. If your kids have a say in the rules, they’ll be more likely to follow them. Not only that, but you’re fostering the good habit of building trust, communication, and accountability.

Offer Care and Support

When it comes to child sexual abuse—both online and offline—the risk factors remain the same. Perpetrators target children who experience depression, loneliness, anxiety, low self-esteem, and other forms of alienation. With grooming, whether it’s messaging a child online or routinely meeting them in secret, the goal is to isolate the victim from other sources of support. However, such attempts will prove more difficult if parents are actively involved in the child’s life, offering continual affection, care, and support. These protective factors can help boost a child’s self-esteem, strengthen their sense of safety and boundaries, and assure them that they will always have someone in their corner.
As a concerned parent, your efforts to monitor your child’s activities, social interactions, and risky behaviors, whether online or offline, are an important way to increase your child’s safety. Your involvement in these areas can teach them important skills, increase trust between the two of you, and reduce their vulnerability to being harmed. And the best part is getting to know them better along the way.

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