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What makes someone a safe adult?

Have you ever contemplated this question before? You would be surprised at the number of people who haven't. 

It's probably because it's not something our parents openly discussed, it's not something we have grown up discussing and it's not something we have been asked to analyse in our own lives. Usually, we only contemplate the traits and behaviours of a 'safe' adult once something 'unsafe' happens.  

Knowing what a safe adult is, how they act, behave and their traits is a really good way to know whether someone is a safe person to care for or leave your child with... or not.  

Safe Adult meaning:  

Safe - adjective: protected from or not exposed to danger or risk; not likely to be harmed or lost.  

Adult - noun: a person who is fully grown or developed. 

Safe Adult - a fully grown or developed individual that a child can go to if they ever feel unsafe, unwell or hurt and is someone that will not expose them to danger or harm.   

Safe adults hold certain beliefs about their role as an 'adult' and behave in certain ways when interacting and dealing with children and as I've mentioned, knowing what a 'safe adult' is helps us identify 'unsafe' adults and unsafe behaviours.  

Here are some of the traits and behaviours that make an adult, a safe adult: 

1. Safe adults don't make children FEEL unsafe, and if they do for any reason, they stop IMMEDIATELY and make them feel safe again.  

2. Safe adults LISTEN to and BELIEVE children when they tell them something. They don't belittle, invalidate or dismiss the child's concerns or feelings.  

3. Safe adults don't ask children to keep UNSAFE secrets. Unsafe secrets are defined by the child's lack of control, choice and time limit over the 'thing' that is being kept secret.  

4. Safe adults don't GUILT a child into doing things with them or for them. ie. 'If you loved me you would do it' or 'If you want me to be happy you'll do xyz...' or 'I'll be sad if you don't do it' etc.   

5. Safe adults don't SINGLE out one child over another. They treat ALL children the same. ie. they don't go on special trips or give 1-on-1 tutoring or coaching to a 'special' child. They include all children in their trips or outings and lessons.  

6. Safe adults NEVER share inappropriate images, nude photos (even accidentally) or ask for nude photos or inappropriate images. Safe adults also don't TALK about sexual acts, ask about what they do with their boyfriends or girlfriends or have inappropriate conversations of a sexualised nature with children.  

7. Safe adults CALL out inappropriate jokes and behaviours by other people and adults.  

8. Safe adults are RESPECTFUL of a child's consent and boundaries. They respect a child when they say NO and don't continue to do the thing the child has said NO too.  

9. Non-parental safe adults DEFER to an parent of caregiver before asking a child to help them or do something. They don't approach a child and ask for help or information without asking the parent/caregiver first.  

10. Safe adults don't speak with children behind LOCKED doors or in closed rooms. They leave bedroom and room doors open and or windows/blinds open in offices or public spaces such as classrooms.  

11. Safe adults are CONSIDERATE of a children's rights, their individual needs and their development. They don't belittle or degrade them and they don't have unrealistic expectations of them. They recognise that they are still children.  

12. Safe adults don't make PROMISES they can't keep or tell them things that are NOT true or that is purposefully misleading.  

13. Safe adults don't TALK about or tell kids things that are inappropriate for their age and developmental stage.  

14. Safe adults DON'T put adult problems on children's shoulders (where possible) and don't discuss adult issues with children.   

15. Safe adults KNOW and understand that a child is a child and therefore they are to be protected, kept safe and guided.   

Our children NEED safe adults in their lives for many reasons.  

Often safe adults are family members, family friends, teachers, coaches, parents of friends, neighbours and adult siblings. However, 'unsafe' people can be those people as well.  

It's really important that we identify what are 'safe' behaviours so we can help teach our children what they are as well.  

For more information on further protective behaviour and body safety topics, check out my book, Operation KidSafe - a detective's guide to child abuse prevention via Amazon, Audible or Spotify.