This article was written by Kayelene Kerr from eSafeKids.
Trusted adults are individuals whom children feel comfortable seeking support from. These are people who have earned a child's trust through consistent care, understanding, and reliability. Trusted adults can include parents, carers, guardians, grandparents, teachers, coaches, family friends, or any other responsible and caring individuals actively involved in a child's life. The concept emphasises the importance of open communication and a supportive network for a child's well-being and safety.
What do trusted adults do?
Trusted adults play a crucial role in a child's life for several reasons:
Safety and Protection
Children need reliable adults they can turn to for guidance, support and if needed protection. Trusted adults can help ensure a child's safety by offering support and assistance in challenging, potentially harmful and unsafe situations.
Sense of Belonging
Trusted adults provide a sense of belonging and stability. Knowing there are caring individuals in their life helps children feel secure and connected, contributing to their overall wellbeing.
Building trust with adults allows children to share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns. Trusted adults provide emotional support, helping children navigate the ups and downs of life while fostering a sense of security.
Trusting relationships with adults contribute to a child's sense of self-worth. Knowing that there are caring individuals who believe in them boosts a child's confidence and self-esteem.
Open lines of communication are vital for a child's development. Trusted adults encourage dialogue, making it easier for children to express themselves, ask questions, and seek guidance on various aspects of life.
When faced with challenges, children can turn to trusted adults for advice and support problem-solving. This helps them develop essential life skills and learn how to navigate complex situations with guidance from someone they trust.
Navigating Difficult Conversations
Trusted adults are essential when addressing sensitive, tricky and difficult topics. Their guidance can make these conversations more manageable and constructive.
Trusted adults often serve as positive role models, shaping a child's values, beliefs, and behaviours. Through their actions and interactions, these individuals contribute to a child's social, emotional and relational development.
Networks, Trusted Adults & Safety Team
Over the years I've continually told my boys they can talk to me about anything no matter what it is. I've also told them that from time to time I may be disappointed, frustrated, upset or unhappy with their behaviour or choices, but there is nothing that would make me love them less. There may be times your child may not feel comfortable talking to you, or you’re not available so it's important our children have other trusted adults in their lives. Children may be more comfortable talking to a teacher about things that are happening at school and an aunt or uncle about things they don't feel comfortable talking to their parents about.
In school curriculum this is referred to as developing a Network and Network Helpers.
A network is a group of 5 trusted adults, chosen by the child, who they feel they could talk with about anything, no matter what it is.
Network helpers should:
· Be an adult (or old enough to drive a car)
· Be available and accessible
· Help and support the child
Children may wish to include a pet, God or a deceased relative on their network. Children can put these in the palm of their hand as they can be good to talk with and practice.
Also teach children how to access 000, The Kids Helpline, Headspace and other community services available to support them.
It’s important to review Networks as over time a person may no longer to be available or accessible by the child. The end of each school term and year is an important time to review networks as often times the people the child will have access to over the school holidays will change.
Teach children to persist in asking for help if they’re feeling unsafe or not getting the help or support they need. “If you’re ever feeling unsafe, keep on telling and talking until you’re feeling safe again.”
As a side note, if you child is not behaving or doing the right thing please don’t tell them the Police will come and get them. Don’t use the Police as a threat to get children to behave. I want children to know that the Police are there to protect the community and keep us all safe. If our children are ever lost or in an unsafe situation they may need to speak to a Police Officer and I don’t want them to hesitate or be afraid.
Trusted Adults Talking Points
You may like to include the following when talking with children about trusted adults;
A trusted adult is a grownup that makes you feel safe.
A trusted adult is someone you can talk to about anything. Maybe it’s someone you can talk to if you need help or someone who makes you feel happy when you’re around them.
Trusted adults listen to you when you have questions or problems.
Trusted adults will never ask or tell you to keep an unsafe secret.
It's always ok to talk with a trusted adult and ask them for help.
You can have different trusted adults for different situations.
If you don't get the help you need from one trusted adult, ask another trusted adult.
Sometimes life can be difficult and challenging, you may feel alone or overwhelmed. It's nice to know you have trusted adults in your life you can talk to about anything.
Free Resource: My Trusted Adults
To download a range of free resources visit the eSafeKids Members' Community.
A Lighthouse Letter - Maggie Dent
Dear young person,
I can remember being your age and finding life a bit tricky a times. Our world has become a little less kind, more unpredictable, more chaotic and in many ways less caring. To be honest, it must seem a lot darker for many young people.
I want to offer myself as a safe base should you ever need one. I will lean in for you when you need some support and that support will be non-judgemental and full of compassion with no lectures or unheeded advice. I will be a light house for you, shining a light into the darkness and I will be a positive, reliable presence for you.
Side-by-side we can find a way to overcome obstacles and challenges. In good time, we can do fun stuff together that may include ice cream.
From Your Lighthouse
P.S. My contact details are attached.
A final thought
In summary, trusted adults are important because they create a supportive, nurturing, predictable, stable and safe environment for children. The relationships established with these individuals contribute significantly to a child's social and emotional development.
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About The Author
Kayelene Kerr is recognised as one of Western Australia’s most experienced specialist providers of Protective Behaviours, Body Safety, Cyber Safety, Digital Wellness and Pornography education workshops. Kayelene is passionate about the prevention of child abuse and sexual exploitation, drawing on over 27 years’ experience of study and law enforcement, investigating sexual crimes, including technology facilitated crimes. Kayelene delivers engaging and sought after prevention education workshops to educate, equip and empower children and young people, and to help support parents, carers, educators and other professionals. Kayelene believes protecting children from harm is a shared responsibility and everyone can play a role in the care, safety and protection of children. Kayelene aims to inspire the trusted adults in children’s lives to tackle sometimes challenging topics.
eSafeKids strives to reduce and prevent harm through proactive prevention education, supporting and inspiring parents, carers, educators and other professionals to talk with children, young people and vulnerable adults about protective behaviours, body safety, cyber safety, digital wellness and pornography. eSafeKids is based in Perth, Western Australia.
eSafeKids provides books and resources to teach children about social and emotional intelligence, resilience, empathy, gender equality, consent, body safety, protective behaviours, cyber safety, digital wellness, media literacy, puberty and pornography.
eSafeKids books can support educators teaching protective behaviours and child abuse prevention education that aligns with the Western Australian Curriculum, Australian Curriculum, Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Framework: National Quality Standards (NQS).