Hi Friends! Last week we talked about preventing child sexual abuse – the importance of prevention cannot be exaggerated. In fact, it’s hard to put enough emphasis on the importance of prevention, but today, we are talking about intervention and next time – recovery!

Bystander intervention helps in preventing abuse before it can happen and also helps to set a precedent for what is acceptable behavior and what is not. A bystander is a person who witnesses a boundary violation, or sees a situation in which a child is vulnerable. When intervening it is not important that you know the intentions of the person who has crossed the boundary. What is important is that you reinforce the boundary. It is okay if your intervention happens in front of others. In fact, setting limits in front of others creates a new norm in that environment. It also tells children that you know what the boundary is, and you will protect them. When intervening in a boundary violation situation, take the following simple steps:

1- Describe the inappropriate behavior to the person who has crossed the boundary.

2- Set a new limit for the person crossing the  boundary. 

3- Move on.

It is important to remember that once you set a boundary, to make sure the person who has violated the boundary is willing to follow the limit you have set. If not, move the child to a safer situation.  Moving on is a way to keep the situation from becoming dramatic or highly emotional.

Here’s an example of putting this plan into action:

Describe the behavior – “Micah seems uncomfortable with tickling.”

Set a limit – “Please stop.”

Move on – “Micah, let’s go see what the other children are playing now.”

Getting involved doesn’t mean earth shattering, fist shaking action. It very often means making sure everyone is clear on what’s expected and what is acceptable and what is not. Intervention is one step in helping to keep our children safe. Next step? Recovery!


Laura Fogarty
Laura Fogarty

Editor, Ask Lala

Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!

Laura has an ACE score of 7.


Authors express their own opinions which do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Stop Abuse Campaign.