Step 2: Minimize Opportunity

Step 1: Learn the Facts | Step 3: Talk about It | Step 4: Recognize the Signs | Step 5: React Responsibly | The Five Steps to Protecting Our Children


If you eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations between children and adults, and children and other youth, you'll dramatically reduce the risk of sexual abuse.

More than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in isolated, one-on-one situations.

Reduce risk. Protect children.

  • Understand that abusers often become friendly with potential victims and their families, enjoying family activities, earning trust, and gaining time alone with children.
  • Think carefully about the safety of any isolated, one-on-one settings. Choose group situations when possible.
  • Think carefully about the safety of situations in which older youth have access to younger children. Make sure that multiple adults are present who can supervise.
  • Set an example by personally avoiding isolated, one-on-one situations with children other than your own.
  • Monitor children's Internet use. Offenders use the Internet to lure children into physical contact.

CREATE AND LOBBY FOR POLICIES reducing or eliminating isolated, one-on-one situations in all youth serving organizations, such as faith groups, sports teams, and school clubs. These policies should ensure that all activities can be interrupted and observed.

  • Talk with program administrators about the supervision of older youth who have responsibility for the care of children.
  • Insist on screenings that include criminal background checks, personal interviews, and professional recommendations for all adults who serve children. Avoid programs that do not use ALL of these methods.
  • Insist that youth serving organizations train their staff and volunteers to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
  • Ensure that youth serving organizations have policies for dealing with suspicious situations and reports of abuse.

ONE-ON-ONE TIME with trusted adults is healthy and valuable for a child. It builds self-esteem and deepens relationships. To protect children while nurturing these relationships:

  • Drop in unexpectedly when the child is alone with an adult or another youth, even if it a trusted family member.
  • Make sure outings are observable - if not by you, then by others.
  • Ask adults about the specifics of planned activities before the child leaves your care. Notice their ability to be specific.
  • Talk with the child following the activity. Notice the child's mood and whether he or she can tell you with confidence how the time was spent.
  • Find a way to tell adults who care for children that you and the child are educated about child sexual abuse. Be that direct.

Step 3: Talk About It