Protective interrupting



In any program that focuses on issues of relationships and sexuality, there is the possibility that students may disclose personal issues or abuse. Protective interrupting is a strategy to prevent a child disclosing in front of other students (which then provides them with the opportunity to disclose in a safe and confidential manner).


How do I protectively interrupt?

  1. Gently interrupt the child by acknowledging them and preventing further disclosure

"Thank you, it sounds as though you have something important to talk about....

  1. Be supportive and gently indicate that the child can talk in a more private situation.

".....why don't we have a chat at recess?"

  1. Arrange to see the child as soon as possible in a quiet location.

  2. Listen attentively and reassure the child that telling was the right thing to do. 

  3. If abuse is disclosed, explain to the child that because they are being harmed you need to make sure they are safe and gain some help for them.  Do not promise the child you will keep it secret. (See Dealing with Disclosures).

  4. Reassure the child that the abuse was not their fault.

  5. Explain what is likely to happen next.

  6. Report the abuse as soon as possible.

If the child is not willing to talk at a later time, respect their wishes and let them know you are willing to talk with them another time. You may like to suggest they think of another trusted adult they feel comfortable talking with if they don't want to talk to you or if you are not available. 


Mandatory report of child sexual abuse

Teachers, boarding supervisors, police, doctors, nurses and midwives are legally required to report a belief formed on reasonable grounds of child sexual abuse to the Department of Communities - Child Protection and Family Support.

A mandatory report can be lodged using the Mandatory Reporting Web System.


Further information

Dealing with disclosures




This teaching note appears in the following learning activities: