Most relationships that your teen has will be harmless, supportive and enjoyable. Having conversations with them about staying safe will encourage them to tell you if they have any worries about how someone is acting.
As they grow up they’ll spend more time away from you. You can help them take precautions and let them know how to react if they feel uncomfortable in a situation.
How to encourage a child to stay safe with others
- Encourage your child to go with their ‘gut’ feelings. If they feel uncomfortable about something, they need to act on it.
- Explain to your child the importance of getting away from someone who frightens them. They could go to a place where there are lots of other people or ask for help from a police officer, or someone in a shop or another family if you’re not there.
- It’s vital that your children know they can raise concerns if they feel worried or uncomfortable with someone they know, including a family member. They must tell their trusted adult even if the person who is worrying them has told them not to.
Talking to your child about healthy relationships
Chat to your teen about healthy relationships. You might feel awkward but there are ways to make the conversation easier. Choose a time to chat with your child where you are relaxed and won’t be interrupted. Several short conversations might be easier than one long session trying to cover everything at once. Chatting about the feelings and emotions of relationships is as important as explaining the physical side of sexual relationships. The NSPCC has advice to help you understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, and on what you can do to support your child if you are worried about them.
Talk to your teen about the risk of abuse within relationships to help them learn how to stay safe. You can find more support on the ‘relationship and sex’ page.
This is when someone tries to become friends with a child to take advantage of them. The abuser forms a relationship and an attachment to the child. This encourages the child to go along with the abuse, making it less likely for them to tell anyone about it.
The groomer is very clever at what they do. They’ll be friendly and enthusiastic making it harder for your teen to turn them down. It can be difficult to identify them as a groomer, because they’ll seem so normal to you or your child.
They could be someone you know, even a family member, or they might be a stranger or someone in authority, like a teacher. In some cases they will first befriend the parents, so they can get to know the child.
Help protect your teen from being groomed by understanding the risks including young people:
- who are on their own a lot and without adult supervision
- who are bullied or don’t have many friends
- with special educational needs
- who have low mood or self-esteem
- who are not in school a lot of the time
- who are on the internet regularly without supervision.
The NSPCC has more information on grooming.
The NSPCC has more advice about how to spot the signs of criminal exploitation and involvement in gangs and what support is available for children and young people.
Families who might need further support
Some young people may be more vulnerable to abuse. The best way that you as a parent can protect your child from abuse is to have an open relationship based on honesty. Contact.org.uk has a useful guide to support parents with a child with additional needs to arm your child with the confidence, knowledge and skills to protect themselves to let them enjoy exploring all that life has to offer.