Examples of appropriate and inappropriate behaviour

Examples are provided to help increase understanding of child sexual abuse.

  • The content on this webpage may be distressing for some people. Information on where to seek support is at the bottom of the page.
  • If you have information in relation to child sexual abuse, we strongly encourage you to contact Tasmania Police on 131 444.
  • Supporting children and young people is our number one priority. If your child or your family needs support in relation to this matter, please contact your school.
  • These examples are a guide only and do not cover the full range of behaviours.

Below are examples of behaviours that would be considered appropriate in relation to a child or young person, compared with those that would be considered inappropriate. They are provided as a guide only and do not cover the full range of behaviours.

Physical harm or touching

Appropriate

  • To instruct a student in the proper use of a woodworking tool, an employee places their hands over a student’s hand while the student is using it after first asking the student for permission. The contact ceases after the demonstration is completed.
  • A six-year-old student falls over in the playground, skins their knee and starts to cry. An Education Facility Attendant working nearby stands the child back up and comforts them by placing their hands on the child’s shoulders and speaking to them until they stop crying. The employee then walks with the student to a first-aid station.

Inappropriate

  • An employee walks around the playground with one arm around the waist of a student, leading to prolonged physical contact.
  • An employee strokes a student’s hair while speaking to them.

Inappropriate comments or contact

Appropriate

  • A 17-year-old female student advises her teacher that she is having problems at home and would like some advice. The teacher advises the student of the range of assistance available and invites the student to speak to them again if needed. The teacher discusses the issue with the principal and guidance officer before making a referral for the student to relevant assistance providers. 
  • A year six student is removing another student’s pens from the desk, putting them out of sight and refusing to give them back. A teacher approaches the offending student, makes eye contact, and says in a firm and controlled voice, “[Name] please give [other student’s name] pens back now.”

Inappropriate

  • During quiet individual study time in class, a staff member moves close to a student who is seated at a desk. The staff member places their hand on the student’s leg and leaves it there while talking about what the student is reading.
  • After a school play, the drama teacher approaches one of the student actors, saying, “I didn’t realise how grown up you were until I saw you in that outfit. The play went over really well. After we tidy up here, maybe you and I can celebrate?”

Grooming behaviour

Appropriate

  • A teacher accidently bumps into a student in a narrow corridor and apologises to make sure she isn’t embarrassed or uncomfortable.

Inappropriate

  • A music teacher offers small gifts to a student as a reward for improved playing technique and arranges additional lessons outside school hours.
  • An employee sends a private message to a student via social media which reads “Hi, hope you had a great weekend!”
  • An employee is aware that a student has advanced computer skills and invites the student to their house on the weekend to help with a computer problem. The employee regularly invites the student to their home to help with computer issues.

Where to seek support

If the information on this page causes you any distress or raises any questions or concerns for you, additional options for advice and support are listed below:

Beyond Blue – Call 1300 224 636 or visit the Beyond Blue website 
Mental health and wellbeing organisation supporting those affected by anxiety, depression and suicide.    

1800 Respect – Call 1800 737 732 or visit the 1800 Respect website
Support and information for anyone affected by sexual assault, or domestic or family violence

Lifeline – Call 13 11 14 or visit the Lifeline website
24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention.

Sexual Assault Support Service Inc (SASS) – Call 03 6231 1811 / 03 6231 0044 or visit the SASS website
Southern-based community service organisation providing support and information to survivors of sexual abuse.

Laurel House – Call 03 6334 2740 / 03 6431 9711 or visit the Laurel House website
Northern and north-western-based sexual abuse and sexual assault support service.

Knowmore – Call 1800 605 762 or visit the Knowmore website
Free legal advice for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.