Throughout Elementary School this month we’ve been teaching students skills that will help keep them stay safe in potentially dangerous or abusive situations. We have been exploring touching safety through discussion, role play, puppet work, graphic novel style productions and direct instruction: focusing on teaching children to identify unsafe touches and to say “No,” get away, and tell a grown-up if someone tries to touch their private body parts. Children have also been taught not to keep secrets about touching. They have been given the chance to practice getting out of unsafe situations and to ask a grown-up for help if they need it.
Our students have learnt about three kinds of touches:
Safe Touches. These are touches that keep you safe and are good for your body. They make you feel cared for, loved, and important. Students have identified that safe touches include hugging, holding hands, pats on the back, an arm around the shoulder, and a shot from the doctor.
Unsafe Touches. These are touches that are not good for your body and hurt your body or your feelings (e.g. hitting, pushing, pinching. kicking, and touching the private parts of your body).
Unwanted Touches. These may be safe touches, yet the child doesn’t want to be touched in that way, by that person, or at that moment in time.
The children have also learnt the Touching Rule: No one should touch your private body parts except to keep you clean and healthy. Children have considered what is appropriate, at their particular age, in terms of others touching their private body parts in the name of cleanliness and health. They have also learnt that ‘private body parts’ are ‘those parts that are covered by a swimsuit’ (of the type pictured here).
As parents who came to our parent workshop on this topic at the start of the month will have heard, we recommend that at home children are taught the correct anatomical names for ‘private body parts’ so that, if necessary, they are able to communicate accurately about any touching questions or problem they may have.
All our ES students have learnt and practiced the Safety Steps that will guide them to know what to do if someone breaks the Touching Rule.
As part of learning the these Safety Steps, students have identified different grow-ups to talk to, both inside and outside the family, since parents may not always be available. They have also learnt that:
1) It is never a child’s fault if someone breaks the Touching Rule.
2) A child should never keep secrets about touching.
3) It is never too late to tell about a touching problem.
By December Break, we will have reached the end of our personal safety program teaching for this school year. However, the program is just the beginning of what we all need to do to help keep children safe. Children retain the skills they have learnt only if they keep practicing them. And for this reason, it is recommended that parents review the aforementioned personal safety rules and steps with their children on a regular basis. Please feel free to contact your child’s Counselor if you would like guidance on how to do this, or would appreciate additional information on/the chance to discuss any aspect of the Talking About Touch Program at IST.