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Protecting our kids

Kids are the future leaders and elders of families and communities. They learn everything from the adults around them.

They need to know they are safe at home and in the community. There are lots of things the family and community can do to help keep kids safe and grow up to be strong and confident adults.

Hitting and hurting

Families don't want to hurt their kids but it can happen if someone loses their temper or punishment gets out of hand. Hitting, flogging, shaking, burning and scalding can hurt kids very badly.

Kids are smaller and much more easily hurt than adults. They are in danger of being hurt very badly if someone loses control.

  • Never hit a baby—hitting can break bones. 
  • Never shake a baby—shaking can cause brain damage. 
  • Never hit kids when you are angry—you may hit too hard. 
  • Never hit kids around the face, head, chest or back. 
  • Never use sharp things to punish kids. 
  • Never ram bottles, spoons or other things into kids' mouths. 
  • Never push kids on to anything hot or put them in a hot bath without testing the water. 

Words and actions

Kids can also be hurt by words and actions. When kids are hurt this way the pain can last a long time—they can still hurt when they are adults.

Kids are hurt when you threaten or scare them, put them down by saying they are stupid or hopeless, or if you always blame them when things go wrong and it's not their fault. Shouting all the time and rejecting kids can also hurt them.

It's important to use good words and kind actions towards kids. Tell your kids you love them and let them know when they do a good job. Yarn with them in a way they can understand and listen to them. 

Neglect

Kids need food, love and care. People looking after kids need to make sure they have enough of these things.

Kids who are neglected can be tired, hungry or do badly at school. They can feel bad about themselves and not make friends easily. Neglect can be:

  • often leaving young kids alone for longer than they can cope with 
  • not giving enough food when the adults or family can provide it 
  • leaving injuries untreated when there is treatment available. 

Good touching, bad touching

All kids need love and like to be shown affection. This is good touching. When kids are touched in a sexual way it becomes bad touching. Teach kids to be safe against bad touching.

Encourage them to yarn with someone they trust if it happens to them.Teach them to say 'no' when they don't want to be touched in a sexual way.

When kids say something about bad touching listen to them and help them feel safe. Remember, the person hurting the kid is usually older, stronger and totally responsible for their own actions.

Other sexual things which can affect kids include:

  • letting them look at pornographic movies, pictures or stories 
  • forcing them to watch sexual acts 
  • flashing private body parts 
  • forcing or asking kids to touch private body parts and touching them in the same way. 

When kids are hurting from bad touching

When kids are hurting there may be signs that something is wrong. These signs can be physical or emotional. These things may not always be from bad touching but it's important to make it easy for kids to yarn about what is happening.

Things which might tell you there is a problem include:

  • withdrawing from other people and not wanting to be touched 
  • suddenly clinging to mum and dad a lot 
  • getting angry easily 
  • wetting the bed again even after they have stopped doing it 
  • becoming scared of things or people they were not scared of before 
  • pain or irritation in private body parts and getting infections in those areas 
  • nightmares. 

Things you can do

Kids need to be kept safe and to have love, food and shelter. Listen to your kids and support them. Ask for help if you need it and give help if someone else asks for it. Make sure the family knows they have someone to go to for help.

Where you can go for help

Mensline Australia - call 1300 78 99 78 or access online counselling. Both are free and confidential.

Contact your local Aboriginal health service...

Adapted from www.community.wa.gov.au/DFC, Dec 2007, by permission

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