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Resources: Keeping Kids Safe

Is Child Sexual Abuse Really a Problem?

In short, yes. Child sexual abuse is more prevalent than most Canadians would like to believe. Research shows about 1 in 10 children will be sexually victimized before they turn 181 and in the vast majority of cases the offender is known to the child.2

How Can Parents/Guardians Reduce Risk?

  1. Learn about the issue of child sexual abuse and the behaviours and situations that present risk to children and youth. Download our free resource, Child Sexual Abuse: It is Your Business to learn more.
  2. Pay attention and respond to interactions between children and adults. If you are uncomfortable with the way an adult is interacting with a child, get involved. Learn more about how to report on the Taking Action page.
  3. Teach your child about personal safety. Visit kidsintheknow.ca for age-appropriate resources.
  4. Be involved in your child’s life. Attend their activities and pay attention to interactions between adults and the children; know who they are building relationships with.
  5. Screen and check child protection policies at the organizations and activities your child attends. For more tips on screening organizations download 3 Steps for Choosing a Child Safe Organization.
  6. Take note of changes. Kids will have off days, but it’s important to pay attention to changes in their behaviour patterns. Often when kids are distressed they will communicate more through behaviour than words.

How to Talk to Your Child

When talking to your child, make sure information is age appropriate. Young children shouldn’t be exposed to information about child sexual abuse, but rather information about personal safety, such as:

  • Proper names for body parts, including what areas of the body are private and shouldn’t be touched or seen by others.
  • The difference between secrets that are okay to keep (e.g., a surprise party) and secrets that need to be told to a safe adult (e.g., secrets about touching or picture taking).
  • Assertiveness skills. Teach children it is okay to say “no” to something or someone who makes them feel confused or uncomfortable.
  • Identifying safe adults in the child’s life.
  • How to get help from safe adults.
  • The importance of privacy tied to changing, bathing, and going to the bathroom.
  • The ability to identify and label their feelings.

Research shows that offenders are less likely to target children who present a risk of telling. Empowering children with knowledge about personal safety and boundaries can help reduce their risk of victimization. For more age-appropriate ideas of what to discuss with your child visit Kids in the Know.

Need Help Getting Started?

The Canadian Centre offers age-appropriate resources that can increase children’s safety confidence, as well as being a springboard for conversation about personal safety. Visit the Order Materials page for a selection of FREE resources.


1. Afifi TO, MacMillan HL, Boyle M, et al. “Child abuse and mental disorders in Canada.” Canadian Medical Association Journal. 2014; 186(9): E324-32.

2. Department of Justice Canada. (2013) “Sexual Offending Against Children and Youth.” Retrieved from: http://www.canada.ca/en/news/archive/2013/02/sexual-offending-against-children-youth.html. Keighley, K. (2017). “Police-reported crime statistics in Canada, 2016.” Juristat, Vol. 37, No. 1. Ottawa: Statistics Canada. Cat. No. 85-002-X

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