Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Short Activity: Web of Prevention

Robust hiring strategies, including criminal background checks, are the first steps in preventing abusers from making their way into your organization. However, the abuse cases we investigate have shown us that no single strategy is going to work in isolation to keep youth safe. The exercise below is intended to drive home the need for interlinking ‘layers’ of protection. Use this at your next staff meeting as a quick refresher to review your abuse prevention protocols.

Please feel free to download this above and print it off.

Web of Prevention

Time: 10+ minutes

Materials needed:

  • One ball of yarn
  • A small stuffed animal (optional)


Ask everyone to form a circle—ideally of at least 8 to 10 people. Hold the end of the yarn in your hand, and talk about one measure, policy or practice that helps prevent child sexual abuse at your organization—criminal background checks are a good place to start, as they are obvious. Once you have named this measure, throw the ball of yarn—keeping hold of one end—to someone else. Ask them to name a second ‘layer’ of protection. Then after they answer, they will pass to someone else in the group. (They shouldn’t go to their immediate left or right.)

Eventually, the yarn should form a web. It can be helpful to illustrate the principle of the exercise by tossing a stuffed animal—representative of a youth needing protection—into the circle toward the beginning of the exercise, and at the end. As more connections and ‘layers’ are incorporated, the chances of the animal falling become less.

Optional Discussion Questions:
  1. Why is it important that we have a multi-layered approach to abuse prevention?
  2. Are there additional opportunities to incorporate abuse prevention strategies into our everyday work?