Safer environments can help reduce the risk for abuse.

More than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in isolated, one-on-one situations. If you eliminate or reduce isolated, one-on-one situations between children and adults, as well as children and other youth, you’ll dramatically reduce the risk of sexual abuse.

How to reduce risk?

  • Think carefully about the safety of any isolated, one-on-one settings. Make sure interactions with children can be observed and interrupted. Choose group situations when possible.
  • Think carefully about the safety of situations in which older youth have access to younger children. Make sure that multiple adults are present who can supervise.
  • Set an example by personally avoiding isolated, one-on-one situations with children other than your own.
  • Understand that abusers often become friendly with potential victims and their families, enjoying family activities, earning trust, and gaining time alone with children.
  • Monitor children’s Internet use. Offenders use the Internet to lure children into physical contact.


Create and lobby for policies that reduce or eliminate isolated, one-on-one situations in all youth serving organizations:

  • These policies should ensure that all activities can be interrupted and observed.
  • Talk with program administrators about the supervision of older youth who have responsibility for the care of children.
  • Insist on screenings that include criminal background checks, personal interviews, and professional recommendations for all adults who serve children. Avoid programs that do not use all of these methods.
  • Insist that youth serving organizations train their staff and volunteers to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
  • Ensure that youth serving organizations have policies for dealing with suspicious situations and reports of abuse.


One-on-one time with trusted adults is healthy and valuable for a child.

It builds self-esteem and deepens relationships. To protect children while nurturing these relationships:

  • Drop in unexpectedly when the child is alone with an adult or another youth, even if it a trusted family member.
  • Make sure outings are observable – if not by you, then by others.
  • Ask adults about the specifics of planned activities before the child leaves your care. Notice their ability to be specific.
  • Talk with the child following the activity. Notice the child’s mood and whether he or she can tell you with confidence how the time was spent.
  • Find a way to tell adults who care for children that you and the child are educated about child sexual abuse. Be that direct.


Find out how to have open conversations with children about their bodies, sex, and boundaries.

Step 3: Talk About It