Growing up is supposed to be fun. Children and teens shouldn't have to worry about the types of things adults have to consider but unfortunately, challenging or confusing situations present themselves that force young people to grow up even faster. And as much as parents and adults want to control every aspect of a child's life, there's no real way around the fact that they will at some point or another, be in the care of someone else — a teacher, a coach, a neighbor, a babysitter, etc. — and they need to know how to respond and protect themselves if they feel threatened or uncomfortable. That's why we've provided the following information, written by and large by kids, for kids.

Get Immediate Help

If you suspect child abuse, contact your local Child Advocacy Center or call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4ACHILD

Children’s Advocacy Centers bring together professionals and agencies in a multidisciplinary team. They emphasize the coordination of investigation and intervention services to create a child-focused approach to child abuse cases.

The National Child Abuse Hotline is dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. Serving the United States, its territories, and Canada, the Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with professional crisis counselors who, through interpreters, can provide assistance in 140 languages. The Hotline offers crisis intervention, information, literature, and referrals to thousands of emergency, social service, and support resources. All calls are anonymous and confidential.

For Children & Teens

Information for Children

Young girl leaning into arm

Both boys and girls have all kinds of feelings. Knowing your feelings and learning ways to express them is part of growing up. Sometimes it can be confusing, especially if a friend or even an adult is telling you that you should feel or act differently than you think you should. So the best thing to do is to ask lots of questions and make sure you understand as much as possible so that you can make the decision that is best for you. YOUR BODY BELONGS TO U, and anyone who tries to mistreat or hurt your body is trying to abuse it, and abuse is a very bad thing.

Sexual abuse happens when someone breaks the rules that have to do with another person's body — making comments about wanting to touch your body or actually touching your body in a way that they shouldn't be touching it. Sexual abuse also includes another person trying to make you touch their body when you don't want to. It is wrong for anyone to take advantage of you just because he or she is older or more powerful than you.

Sexual abuse can happen between kids and adults — even between adults you know and trust. It can also happen between one kid and another kid — even your best friends. And it can happen to both boys and girls.

Whether sexual abuse hurts or feels gentle and loving, it is always wrong. People, especially grown-ups, know it is wrong. It is not your fault if it happens to you.

Remember: YOUR BODY BELONGS TO U!

If anyone tries to do something to your body that you don't want them to do or don't think they should do, say, "NO!" or "STOP!" or "DON'T!" to the person who is abusing you. Then, go tell an adult that you trust. This might be your parents or a friend or a teacher. You could also talk with a school counselor, a doctor or nurse, or even someone at your church. This is not something to keep secret. It's very important that you talk with someone you trust. And if for some reason the first person you tell doesn't listen, tell a second person. Talk about it until you find someone who understands and believes you. That person will help you.

The best way to prevent sexual abuse is to learn about it and protect yourself. You do that by asking questions.

Things to Ask Your Parents or an Adult You Trust

  • What are the correct names for all of my body parts?
  • How are boys and girls different?
  • When is it OK to be naked?
  • Who is allowed to see me without my clothes on?
  • Why are some of my body parts more sensitive than others?
  • When is it OK to give or get hugs or kisses?
  • What do I do if someone tries to touch me and I don't want to be touched?

Suggested Readings

To learn more, you may want to ask your parents or an adult you trust to buy you a book to read so you can continue to learn how to keep yourself safe. A few books we at RAACE think are really good are listed below. For a full list of our recommended books, please visit our suggested readings page.

Amazing You!
It's Perfectly Normal
What's The Big Secret?

Amazing You!, by Gail Saltz

It's Perfectly Normal, by Robie H. Harris

What's the BIG Secret?, by Laurie Krasny Brown

Information for Teens

Black male teen and his mom

At RAACE, we know talking about sex is uncomfortable. And for many teens, talking about sex with your parents is almost unthinkable! The reality is though, that "sex" isn't a dirty word. And we know that by now you've had sex education courses in school and probably talked with your friends about it. You may even be thinking about having sex or...perhaps you're already sexually active. There are many factors that go into having healthy relationships and the physical act of having sex is just one of them. Having consensual and appropriate relationships is where we are going to focus our conversation with you, because there may be some things you aren't aware of and should know in order to protect yourself.

"I know you and your girlfriend love each other but you are 19 years old and she is 15 and that makes being sexual with each other illegal. If she gets pregnant or her parents press charges, you could have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. It is important for both of you to wait until you are older."

When it Comes to Sexual Abuse, Protecting Yourself Starts With U

The topics of sex and sexual abuse can be embarrassing and you may be confused about what you're feeling as your own sexuality is developing. This is all normal. Sexual abuse, however, is absolutely NOT normal and it's important that you keep in mind the information below in order to protect yourself from abuse:

  • No one has the right to touch you without your permission
  • Adults should not discuss their sexual fantasies or share pornography with you
  • Touching someone sexually while they are drunk is abuse
  • Alcohol and drugs may make it hard for teens to maintain their boundaries and can cloud your judgment
  • You deserve to be spoken to with respect and never feel coerced
  • Pornography is not an accurate depiction of real life
  • Regardless of how you dress or talk, it does not constitute permission
  • It is not okay for adults or even other teens to take pictures or videos of you in sexual positions or unclothed
  • It is not okay for you to engage in sexual behavior with adults
  • You should trust your instincts
  • You do not have to do anything you do not want to do
  • Past permission does not obligate you to future activity
  • Your body is your own
  • If you are in a relationship, you should also understand that:
    • Both parties respect each other’s personal rights and boundaries in a healthy relationship
    • You should decline sexual relations with anyone who refuses to use proper protection
    • Not everyone is having sex. Many teens wait and that is perfectly okay.

Remember: YOUR BODY BELONGS TO U!

If anyone tries to do something to your body that you don't want them to do or don't think they should do, say, "NO!" or "STOP!" or "DON'T!" to the person who is abusing you. Then, go tell an adult that you trust. This might be your parents or a friend or a teacher. You could also talk with a school counselor, a doctor or nurse, or even someone at your church. This is not something to keep secret. It's very important that you talk with someone you trust. And if for some reason the first person you tell doesn't listen, tell a second person. Talk about it until you find someone who understands and believes you. That person will help you.

The best way to prevent sexual abuse is to learn about it and protect yourself. For more information, you can email us at info@raace.org or for immediate help, contact the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4ACHILD. All calls are anonymous and confidential.

(Information above courtesy: U.S. Department of Justice, NSOPW)

Suggested Readings

To learn more, you may want to purchase a book to read so you can continue to learn how to keep yourself safe. A few books we at RAACE think are really good are listed below. For a full list of our recommended books, please visit our suggested readings page.

The Girl's Body Book
The Boy's Body Book

The Girl's Body Book, by Kelli Dunham

The Boy's Body Book, by Kelli Dunham