Preventing child sexual abuse


The protection, safety and wellbeing of children and young people is the highest priority for the Department of Education. Feeling safe is a critical foundation for a child’s learning, development and wellbeing.

The recent Australian Child Maltreatment Study found that child maltreatment is widespread among Australians. 28.5% of Australians aged 16–65 have experienced sexual abuse as a child. Among young people 16–25 years old, the figure is also high, at 25.7%. This means that child sexual abuse is still occurring in our communities and many children and young people are being harmed.

This page has information for parents and carers on what they can do to help prevent child sexual abuse and how to respond when any harm has occurred.

Thinking and talking about child sexual abuse can be uncomfortable. But by talking about it, the wider community will become more aware of the issue and what to look out for. We can reduce the stigma for survivors and ensure they receive the support they require.

Kids Helpline have easy to understand information about what child sexual abuse is, the signs of sexual abuse and how to keep children safe from sexual abuse.

The Raising Children Network also have information for parents about child sexual abuse, talking to children and teenagers about sexual abuse and how to keep children safe at home and in the community.

One Talk at a Time aims to help prevent child sexual abuse by encouraging adults to have ongoing, proactive, preventative conversations with children, young people and other adults. The National Office for Child Safety has information for parents about how to have these important conversations to prevent child sexual abuse.

Child sexual abuse and exploitation can also happen online, often without any physical contact occurring. Learn more about online child exploitation on the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) website. The eSafety Commission has information for parents about how to recognise grooming or unwanted online contact and ways to protect children when they are online.

What you can do to prevent child sexual abuse

Some of the most effective ways that parents can help prevent child sexual abuse are to help children learn how to protect themselves and to respond supportively when they need help. To do this you can:

  • talk openly and honestly with your child about personal safety, sex, respectful relationships and their online activities
  • be approachable and supportive if your child wants to talk or needs help. Remember, if a child has been or is being sexually abused, it is never their fault
  • teach your child some basic online safety skills and body safety skills
  • support your child’s participation in education programs relating to personal safety, sex, respectful relationships and online safety.

Reporting child sexual abuse

Becoming aware of child sexual abuse can be very distressing, especially if your own child has been harmed. Different options for help and support are available on the ACCCE website.

If you are worried that your child or a child you know is at risk of being sexually abused, or has been sexually abused, it is important to act immediately.

If your child or another person is in immediate danger, call triple zero (000).

To report a child sexual offence to police, phone PoliceLink on 131 444.

If the matter involves online child sexual abuse, including online grooming, you can report via the ACCCE.

The eSafety Commission can help to remove online image-based abuse material, and illegal and harmful online content.

If your child has been harmed, you can speak to their school about what has happened. The school can help put in place appropriate support, such as speaking with the guidance officer, making referrals to external support services or simply being aware they are going through a tough time. It's important to know that once the school becomes aware that a child has been sexually abused or is likely to be sexually abused, they are required to make a report to police.

The law in Queensland has been strengthened to improve the protection of children from offences of a sexual nature. All adults have the responsibility to report sexual offences against children by another adult to police, unless they have a reasonable excuse not to. More information is available on the Queensland Government website.

Last updated 04 December 2023