What do we teach?

The two Central Themes of Protective Behaviours are:

Theme One:

“We all have the right to feel safe at all times.”

Theme Two:

“Nothing is so awful that we can’t talk about it with someone.”

When presenting the program, a number of the concepts and strategies are presented with each of the themes, such as:


Safety, in the context of Protective Behaviours, identifies how a person feels when they are safe and how they recognise that safety. This skill is important as it enables a person to identify when they may be feeling unsafe. Safety is defined by the individual.

​Early Warning Signs

These are specific, physical sensations that can be noticed by each of us internally and non-verbally.

Often these indicators are ignored or not considered important. Children and adults both are taught to recognise these physical sensations to alert them to danger or apprehension and not to ignore them.

If acknowledged maybe a crisis situation could be avoided and communicating feelings and thoughts with people will benefit the individual involved. This works in two ways not simply for the person in crisis but also the person who is assisting.

​One Step Removed

This strategy requires that sensitive issues are framed in the third person so that people are not asked to place themselves in difficult or threatening situations – even by “pretending”. This is extremely important but relatively easy to do.

A “what – if” situation is much easier for the support person to use in a difficult situation rather than confronting a person on a personal level.

A “what – if” is also a safe way for a person who feels they are not coping to talk about a difficult situation.

The third person approach also provides an opportunity to develop many strategies to assist. It is often easier to solve a problem when it is removed from the individual.

Theme Reinforcement

The two themes need to be kept constantly reinforced.

Believing that people have the right to be safe and that opening up communication is important should always be reinforced. It is when people do not feel comfortable to speak out and believe they have a right to feel safe that problems can arise.

​Networks and Network review

Networks are trusted people that are there as a support and to communicate with on both a professional and personal level.

Networks are to be constantly reviewed and people need to practice using them. It is often said that the Protective Behaviours philosophy gives adults and children permission to talk.

It is important to regularly review the responses of people listed on networks and the continued availability of these people.


This means providing encouragement to ourselves and others to work through network people until enough help has happened, early warning signs have gone, and a person feels safe again.

​Protective Interrupting

This strategy is used to protect people from disclosing personal issues in a group setting. It requires sensitivity and use of protective and redirecting statements.