Everyone has a role to play in keeping children safe. National Child Protection Week (NCPW), held this year from 4-10 September, is about working together to ensure every child grows up safe and supported.
Led by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), the theme for this year is ‘Every child, in every community, needs a fair go’.
The AFP and the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) play a significant role in child protection, and manage a number of prevention and deterrence initiatives to help protect children from exploitation.
The AFP’s ThinkUKnow online child safety program provides a range of education materials for parents, carers and teachers, children and young people to address the issue of online child sexual exploitation.
The AFP has also received significant funding to boost frontline national law enforcement efforts, to prevent, disrupt and combat online child sexual abuse under the Child Protection National Strategy.
ACCCE and Human Exploitation Commander Hilda Sirec said as a child safe organisation, the AFP is a proud supporter of the week, and this year we’re asking everyone to play your part in child protection.
“Child safety is a whole of community issue and needs a whole of community response. Regardless if you’re a parent, carer, friend or front line worker, everyone can play a part to keep children safe,” Commander Sirec said.
NAPCAN advocate for the rights of children and young people. They know the only way to keep children and young people safe from harm is to stop abuse before it occurs. They raise awareness of child abuse and neglect in Australia, and promote and implement effective prevention strategies and programs.
According to NAPCAN, children are safest when they are listened to, respected and believed. All adults can play a part by ‘tuning in’ to children in everyday situations about small worries. In turn, children are much more likely to feel comfortable telling us if something big has gone wrong.
NCPW is a great time to start conversations with children and families about feeling safe. Here are NAPCAN’s tips for talking with children about safety:
- Support children to identify trusted adults (both within the family and outside) they can talk to, if they are worried, upset, or don’t feel safe. Make sure these adults know they are on your child’s list.
- Remind children that they can talk to you or a trusted adult about anything, no matter how big or small their worry might be.
- Talk to children about how they know when they feel safe or unsafe. Help them to listen to their early warning signs (how their body feels), and to trust their feelings and instincts.
- Use everyday activities as opportunities for conversations (e.g. preparing meals and snacks, going for walks, playing, shopping). If children are used to having lots of communication, it can make it easier to talk when big or tricky issues come up.
- Be open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. This helps children to develop a ‘feelings vocabulary’.
Research conducted by the ACCCE in 2020 revealed only about half of parents talked to their children about online safety.
An award-winning podcast launched by the ACCCE called 'Closing The Net' is working to change that, showcasing that knowledge is power and that our only chance to help prevent this issue is if we bring a 'whole-of-community' response.
The podcast series offers valuable tips and advice on how to keep kids safe online. Listen to the Closing The Net podcast on your favourite streaming platform.
If you or someone you know are impacted by child sexual abuse and online exploitation there are support services available at accce.gov.au/support.
For more information about events during NCPW, head to the events page on the ACCCE website.