When you are being abused, it’s easy to think: I must have done something wrong
It is never your fault
If you are a child or teenager and you’re being abused by someone, we encourage you to tell someone you trust. It can be a teacher, a guidance counselor, a doctor, or someone else you feel comfortable with.
The people who hurt kids are rarely strangers
You might have learned at home or in school to be careful of strangers, and that was good advice. But it’s not always strangers who hurt kids. More often, kids are abused by someone they know and trust.
How can you tell if you’re being abused or neglected?
Here are some questions to answer. If you can say “yes” to any of these questions, then you should find an adult you trust and tell them what’s happening to you.
1. Is someone hurting you?
Hurting your body can happen in many ways:
2. Is someone touching you or asking you to behave in ways that feel uncomfortable or wrong?
The parts of your body that would usually be covered by a bathing suit or underwear are considered your “private parts.” These parts shouldn’t be touched by anyone except you unless you are being checked out by a doctor or nurse.
Sexual abuse can include:
- someone touching your private parts with their hands or other parts of their body or with an object
- someone asking you to touch their private parts
- someone asking you to touch your own private parts while they watch or take pictures
- someone asking you to take your clothes off
- someone asking you watch other people on a TV or video, or in a picture, take their clothes off or touch each other’s private parts
Sometimes, adults who sexually abuse kids will tell the kids that it has to be a secret, or else something bad will happen to the adult or the kid or someone else. This is a threat, and it’s another form of abuse.
3. Is someone saying mean things to you that make you scared or sad?
This could include:
- yelling at you all the time
- calling you names or telling you that you’re stupid or not good enough or you’re ugly
- telling you that they don’t love you, even if they’re your parent or grandparent or other relative
- threatening you that they’re going to hurt you or someone you love, or leave you all alone, or some other scary thing
4. Is your parent or guardian not taking good care of you?
This could include:
- not providing you with enough to eat or drink
- not giving you clean clothes to wear
- not making sure you have a safe place to live and sleep
- not making sure you see a doctor when you’re sick
- not making sure you attend school
- allowing you to use alcohol or drugs
What should you do if you’re being abused?
Tell an adult you trust. Tell your friend. Don’t keep it a secret.
Remember, it’s not your fault, and you have a right to be safe. No one has a right to touch you without your permission. That includes your parents, friends, relatives, coaches, everybody!
Keep telling until someone believes you. You can also call one of the Child Abuse Hotlines. Here are the numbers to call:
Be safe on the Internet
Some child abusers try to reach kids on the Internet. You should always be very careful to follow the rules when you’re online. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has good information, and you can visit their web site:
They also have NetSmartz Workshops with good tips for Internet safety: