There are many actions that we can take as a society to reduce the prevalence of child sexual abuse, although it is probably not possible for any parent or caring adult to guarantee a child’s protection. Child sexual abuse is a problem that breeds in secrecy, so simply speaking openly and publicly about it will enhance efforts at prevention.

It is critically important to educate our children. They need to know that their bodies belong to them and that they don’t have to go along with everything an adult tells them to do. It is important to teach children the proper names for their genitals.

We must encourage them to feel comfortable talking to their parents about their bodies without embarrassment, and teach them what kind of touching is okay between a child and an adult, and what is not. Parents should explain to children that offenders may try to trick them into keeping the “not okay” touching a secret. It is important that we help them to understand the difference between secrets and surprises. We can remind children not to keep secrets and that no matter what an offender might say, it’s okay for the child to tell. Finally, when children are brave enough to disclose sexual abuse, it is important that we respond by doing everything we can to protect them, enforce the laws against the perpetrators, and offer effective medical and mental health care. We can help children to recover from such experiences and protect other children in the process.