How to talk to kids

A child or young person who has witnessed or is living with violence will have a very hard time talking about it. They will be confused, feeling guilty, distressed or becoming detached, they’ll be afraid of how you react and what might happen next, they’ll be afraid that they’ll get in trouble and they will probably ask you to keep it a secret.

However, you can’t always promise confidentiality. If you think the child is experiencing sexual abuse it’s against the law to keep that information from the police. If realise that someone is in danger and the situation is serious, you will need to inform authorities. It depends on each situation. With that in mind, remember to:

reassure them

  • Be patient, don’t push them into talking
  • Listen to what they’re saying
  • Show that you believe them and take them seriously
  • Confirm that the violence is not okay and it’s not their fault
  • Tell them they’ve done the right thing by talking to you
  • Thank them for their bravery

take a look through this site

Take some time to read through the information, resources, quizzes and real life stories on this site to understand what the young person is going through and how they can stay safe

Go through the site together and help them understand how this information applies to their life and what they can do to care for themselves. This is especially important if they are confused, if English is their second language or if they have trouble reading.


  • The law says you have to tell the police if you think they’re in danger of sexual abuse
  • Ask if it’s safe to for you talk to the person who is being abused
  • Tell them you might need to talk to a friend or counsellor about it but that you’ll change parts of the story to make sure the other person can’t identify them
  • Suggest talking to a school counsellor or a service [link to services page] that can help


  • Ask if you can check in with them about this regularly. Even just knowing you are there and that you care can act as emotional support and help to calm them down. You could ring, meet in a cafe or go for a walk, come for a visit or become Facebook friends.
  • Ask them to contact you any time at all, especially if they’re feeling upset, scared or like they can’t cope. Be available. Give them your mobile number or your email address. Connect on Facebook.