Safety means everything to children who have experienced abuse and violence. It is the way they heal. They need people who are important to them to be safe and to be trustworthy.  I think that we need to prepare ourselves to be safe for children by making sure we know safety in our own lives. When we work with teachers, foster parents, grandparents, social workers, youth workers, we ask them to think about how they safety becomes a quality that is experienced in their relationships. These are the sort of questions that we use to help the be ready to offer safety to children traumatised by violence and abuse.

How does someone find their way to your heart? How do you know you feel safe with someone? What do you sense in your body that tells you that?

How do you find your way to your child’s heart? What does your child know about you that has been safe for him/her?

When you were younger, how and who made you feel protected? What were some of the things they did to help you feel safe? Who looked after you that you knew you would always feel safe with? What was it about them that helped you to know that feeling with such confidence?

Whose voice do you hear when you want to feel safe, calm and protected?

When you think about your child, what is it about him/her that you hold in your heart that makes you want to protect them?

Imagine or bring something with you that you believe is important to your child’s safety to a counselling session. It can be a toy, photo, book as an example. Hold this item and imagine your child holding it or playing with it or being comforted by it. What will your child be feeling the most? What will his/her breathing be like as they hold it and play with it? What will the look in his/her eyes tell you about how he/she are feeling? What will he/she be saying to you about it? What will his/her tone of voice sound like?

If you and your child were holding each other softly, what would it feel like in your heart? What words would you use to help your child know that they are safe?

Trace a story from your life where safety in the face of fear was an experience you really valued. How did it start? What did it mean to you? What do you still carry with you about that experience?

Consider a time when you were able to share the feeling of safety with your child in a way that you knew they felt it deeply. How do you know that he/she shared that feeling and experience with you then? What was it like for you to share this feeling of safety with your child in such an intensive way?

If feeling safe was difficult for someone you knew, how would you help them? What would you say to him/her? How would you say it? What would you show him/her in the way you interacted with him/her?

It is not often that we find the time to think about the way we value relationships. We need to really think about what all children need. First and foremost, all children need to feel and be safe. It is the most important gift we can give them.


Being ready for safety, allowing it to fill your life, and appreciating its wonderful effects is the basis for of respect and love. It a small gift we can give all those around us, whether they are children or adults.

Joe Tucci


Australian Childhood Foundation