Healthy and safe: protective behaviours education

Protective behaviours education is important for all children to help keep them safe from sexual abuse. From early on children are continually learning about bodies, relationships and sexuality from their family, and those who care for them. Whilst parents and carers are the primary source of this information, schools and families can work together to provide protective behaviours education to help keep children safe from sexual abuse. It is also an important curriculum responsibility for schools. 

Protective behaviours education is about providing children with information and skills that can help prevent sexual abuse, without making children frightened of their world. Effective programs include topics such as assertiveness, feelings, relationships, correct anatomical names of genitals, rules about touch, types of touch, safe/ unsafe secrets, knowing how to identify unsafe situations and how to get help from trusted adults. 

In Australia, the average age for physical and sexual abuse in children in 6.8 years (ABS), meaning that to be effective, protective behaviours education needs to commence prior to starting school.  The final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Volume 6) also states the importance of protective behaviours programs commencing from ages 3-5 and 5-7 (Royal Comm).

Whilst it is the adult’s responsibility to create safe environments and help children be safe, there are skills children can learn which can empower them identify and seek help when there is a problem. The benefits of receiving positive, factual, consistent messages and information about protective behaviours include:

  • The development of a safety network of trusted adults to talk to
  • Increased communication skills to talk about bodies
  • An understanding of healthy, respectful relationships
  • Learning to identify and express their own personal boundaries
  • Knowledge to identify abuse situations
  • Less likely to experience sexual abuse.

True’s Keep Me Safe program for students in Prep to year 3 is designed to support schools deliver protective behaviour education to young students. Mapped to the Australian HPE Curriculum, Keep Me Safe teaches personal safety to young students in a healthy, positive way. It commences in Prep with the introductory lesson and builds on key focus areas through to the advanced lesson in year 3. The focus areas at each level remain the same but the activities and structure change as children develop their understanding and literacy.

For parents and carers:

Feel Safe – promoting personal safety

Relationship Ready parent/carer modules

Click here to find out more about True’s All School Relationships and Sexuality Education program, or phone (07) 3250 0280 or email