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Have the Hot Chocolate Talk

Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

The Talk Every Parent Needs to Have

Committee for Children’s long-standing history of protecting children from sexual abuse is the origin and soul of our nearly 40-year-old organization. Our goal for this site is to help families know what to say and do to protect kids from predators. In fact, research shows that talking to your kids about sexual abuse, touching, and private body parts can help keep them safe. We understand that child sexual abuse is scary, but talking about it shouldn’t be, so we’re giving you some tips for beginning the conversation, along with strategies and resources to use if your child brings it up.

Starting the Conversation

It’s completely normal to feel uncomfortable, but you can start by weaving these messages into your everyday interactions: at bath time, over meals, or driving to an outing. Or, take your child out for a special treat and some one-on-one time. Find the way that feels right for you.

Download our conversation guide to use when speaking with your kids.

Hot Chocolate Talk Logo
What Is the Hot Chocolate Talk?

To help you get the conversation going, Committee for Children is encouraging you to make the time for a Hot Chocolate Talk. It’s a chance to sit down over a nice cup of cocoa and discuss these difficult issues in a warm, caring atmosphere. Normalizing the conversation draws the issue out of the shadows.

To get started, take the pledge to have a Hot Chocolate Talk with your kids, then download our printable conversation guide which contains conversation starters and talking tips.

Download Conversation Guide

Making Your Talk Age-Appropriate

Under 5 Advuce

Keep rules simple and easy to remember, and bring them up frequently. This isn’t a one-time conversation. The more you talk about it, the more clearly your child will remember, and the more comfortable you’ll become.
Example talking points:
“A bigger person should NEVER touch your private parts except to keep you healthy.” “Never keep secrets about touching.”

6 to 8 advice

As kids get older, you can introduce more rules and specifics. Go over the rules together from time to time. It helps children remember, and makes it easier for everyone to talk about it the next time.
Example talking points:
“No one should EVER touch your private body parts except to keep you healthy.” “You shouldn’t touch other people’s private body parts, either.”

9 And Older Advice

By this age, children can handle detailed rules. Since they can read, consider posting them in your home along with other, more general safety rules like “Wear a helmet whenever you’re on wheels.”

Example talking points:

“Another person should NEVER touch or ask to see your private body parts except to keep you healthy.”

“You should NEVER be made to touch or look at another person’s private body parts.”

“No one should take photos of your private body parts or show you photos of other people’s private parts.”

What to Do If Your Child Tells You

Handling the Conversation

If your child does disclose, reassure them that telling was the right thing to do. Be as warm and caring as you can; avoid expressing anger or blame.

Stay matter of fact and objective, repeating what they say and asking open-ended questions. Don’t insist on precise details, numbers, days, or times. Most importantly, let them know you believe them, you will help them, and that it won’t happen again.

What to Say Right Away

“Thank you for telling me. It was the right thing to do.”

“Tell me what happened,” then repeat what they say. Gently ask open-ended questions like, “What happened next?”

“I believe you. I will help you. And I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

If You’re Too Upset to Listen

Revisit the conversation once you’ve calmed down, saying something like, “Remember what you told me about Uncle John touching your private parts? Can we talk about it again?” Then follow the same guidelines outlined here.