The 5 Steps to Protecting Our Children

Programs for Parents and Individuals | Programs for Youth Serving Organizations | Stewards of Children | Darkness to Light en Español


Child sexual abuse
is an adult issue.



One in 10 children in the U.S. will be sexually abused before the age of 18. As adults, we are responsible for the wellbeing and protection of the children in our care.

The 5 Steps to Protecting Our ChildrenTM is an introductory guide to help adults protect children from sexual abuse. Using an evidence-informed approach, these guidelines provide simple and practical actions you can take to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.

Together, they form the framework for Darkness to Light's prevention training program, Stewards of Children®.





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Print the 5 Steps Card

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Over 90% of sexually abused children are abused by someone known by the child or family.



If you eliminate or reduce potential for children to be in isolated, one-on-one situations with adults or other youth, you dramatically reduce risk.



Children often keep abuse a secret, but barriers can be broken down by talking openly about topics like body safety, sex, and boundaries. One of the best defenses against child sexual abuse is our relationship with children.




Don't expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. Signs are often there, but you have to know what to look for. Emotional or behavioral signals are more common, and may range from "too perfect behavior" to anger and rebellion.




Disclosure, discovery, and suspicions of sexual abuse provide opportunities to intervene on behalf of a child.