Things You Need To Know About Safe Touch and Unsafe Touch

Things You Need To Know About Safe Touch and Unsafe Touch
Written By: Counselling Psychologist
M.Sc. Psychology - Swansea University, UK.
Reviewed By: Counselling Psychologist
MA Psychology Pennsylvania State University, USA
Last Updated: 30-03-2023

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In today s scenario, with an increase in the number of childhood sexual abuse and rape cases, it has become essential for guardians to talk to their children about the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch. A survey showed that one in every two children is a victim of sexual abuse. Furthermore, one in every five children fears sexual abuse and feels unsafe (Hindustan times, 2017). It is also essential to talk to children about sexual identity and sexual development. Children get curious and start exploring their bodies by touching or rubbing their body parts even the genitals, at a very young age. These years require appropriate guidance such as role, safety, and what privacy and private parts mean.

Explain with examples what constitutes safe touch as well as unsafe touch. You may explain "safe touch" as a way people show feelings of care and nurturance for each other (like; gentle hugging). Whereas "unsafe touch" is forced or unwanted (e.g., touching private parts). You can make your child learn about what is acceptable and what is an unacceptable touch; also that s/he must retaliate by saying "NO" and inform you (or the teacher if at school) about any inappropriate or unsafe touches.

Be sure to use the terms safe and unsafe instead of good or bad. This is important because, if the child is unsafely touched, he or she may internalize the situation as "I am bad now because I was touched like this or this happened because I am bad" (Shinde, 2019).

Clear guidelines:

Ensure that the child knows it is not okay for anyone to touch or even have a glance at their private parts. It becomes easy for children to follow a rule, and they will recognize a bad touch. You can use the swimsuit rule for children below seven years to explain private parts (parts covered by a swimming suit).

Limit media exposure:

Parental control settings are available on almost every device. Be cautious that children may knowingly or unknowingly discover adult sexual behaviors through screens.  Pornographic content may be shown to a child by peers or predators in your absence. Ask your child to report this to you if any such thing occurs.

Using the right words:

Make the children learn real names for all body parts, including the genitals (like the penis, vagina, breasts, and buttocks). Made-up names may indicate something wrong and may also make the child curious to find proper names.

Encourage queries:

Do not refuse to answer the questions of a curious little mind. However, your answer should depend upon the child s age-ability to comprehend and maturity.

Handling curiosity:

Do not laugh or mock even if you find the queries are silly. Do not react aggressively or disgusted. Be sensitive and do not shame the child for his/her curiosity. Answer the queries clearly using simple words.

Keep it short and simplified:

Do not go into an elaborative explanation. For instance, a pre-schooler need not know the details of sexual activities or reproduction. All information shared with the children must be appropriate for their age.

A big no to forced affection:

Do not ask your child to give hugs or kisses to people if they do not wish to do so. Be it grandparents, other relatives, or even the parents. It should be the child s right to tell whether they want or do not want to hug someone.

Keep reinforcing the idea that their body is their own and they shall protect it. Also, reassure your children that you will listen to them, trust them, and will protect them.

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DeYoung, M. (1988). The good touch/bad touch dilemma. Child Welfare, 67(1).

Shinde, S. (2019). A Plea to Use Terms Safe Touch and Unsafe Touch Instead of Good Touch and Bad Touch in Personal Safety Education. Institutionalized Children Explorations and Beyond, 6(1), 86-88.

Hindustan Times. (2017). One in every two children victim of sexual abuse saysthe survey. Retrieved from


Praharaj, M. (2018). Awareness of Good and Bad Touch Among Children. i-Manager s Journal on Nursing, 8(2), 1.

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