Reese Witherspoon Talks to Her Kids about Domestic Violence, Rihanna
02/29/2012 AT 07:30 AM EST
"We talk about domestic violence and what that means," Witherspoon, 35, told PEOPLE Tuesday at the 2nd World Conference of Women's Shelters in Washington, D.C., about educating her own family.
"Although the concept is somewhat foreign to them, they're starting to understand that this happens to families in our country and all throughout the world."
Witherspoon's two children – daughter Ava, 12, and son Deacon, 8 – have also talked with their mother about a recent public case: the felony assault by Chris Brown on then-girlfriend Rihanna in February 2009, after which he pleaded guilty.
"My daughter knows what happened. My son knows as well," says the Oscar winner. "We talk about what is abuse. I think it's important to talk to our daughters – and our sons – in order to educate them at an early age about what's appropriate and what is absolutely not acceptable."
Luckily for Witherspoon, she's found herself in a happy relationship and marriage with husband Jim Toth. The couple's first wedding anniversary is next month.
"I don't know what we're doing, but I'm very excited!" she says. "It happened so fast – it all went so quickly."