Warn children about the techniques used by child sex offenders, particularly grooming and sextortion. Many child sex offenders coerce the child to keep the sexual abuse a secret, so inform children which kinds of secrets are okay to keep and which are not. Let children know that they can talk to a trusted adult, child helpline, or school counselor if someone is bullying them by threatening to share indecent photos of them – in other words, sextorting them.
Talk to children calmly, openly, and appropriately when they ask questions about sex. Children can be taught to protect their bodies and to say no to inappropriate touch. For more on how to educate children of varying age groups about sexual abuse, read the Body Boundaries guide for parents and guardians by Save the Children Sweden, available in English, Spanish, and Swedish.
With more and more children using smartphones, the number of children taking and sending sexual photos and videos of themselves – a form of “sexting” – is also growing. Children should be informed of the risk of sexting. Once their sexual photos and videos are passed to another person, the child will no longer have control of who else accesses their material. Once their material is shared onto the internet, the material will remain online forever. For instance, the sexual photos a teenager sends to her boyfriend while they are “in love” can later be uploaded by the boyfriend out of spite or vengeance during a dispute or break-up.