- We offer our Safety Awareness For Everyone "SAFE" Program in schools.
- We provide training to professionals and organizations that interact with children.
- We offer practical advice for parents and caregivers.
Safety Awareness For Everyone (SAFE) is an abuse prevention program taught through public school systems in Northwest Georgia. The curriculum focuses on valuable life-skills such as assertiveness and self-protection. The curriculum takes into consideration the developmental stages of the children taught with 3 different programs geared towards pre-K and Kindergarten, 3rd grade, and 5th grade age groups...
The program is presented by Shannon Bond. Her assistant, "Hermenna Belle" also helps Shannon when she is presenting to younger children.
SAFE Pre-K/Kindergarten Curriculum
With the help of a red-headed child named Hermenabelle (okay, so she's a puppet), children talk openly about inappropriate touching. The program emphasizes the touching rule--that, "Nobody should touch your private parts except to keep you clean and healthy." Each student also has the opportunity to practice a very special and powerful "NO!" in case somebody ever tries to break the touching rule.
"The students really seemed to enjoy and learn from the program." Teacher
"I felt very comfortable with the way the information was presented to my child. I would recommend it gladly." Parent
3rd Grade Curriculum
With the help of Hermenabelle (a puppet), students are taught to identify and distinguish good, bad, and uh-oh touches, In addition to identifying and practicing assertiveness skills, the students role play by helping Hermenabelle develop a safety plan in three different situations.
"Students are definitely given a plan of action to protect themselves." Teacher
"I learned about the 3 touches and what to do if someone gives me an uh-oh feeling." -Student
5th Grade Curriculum
The fifth grade program involves watching a video from the Committee For Children Personal Decision Safety Decision Making curricula entitled, "Yes, You Can Say No." Following the video, the class is led in interactive group discussion. This provides an opportunity for students to ask questions, talk about the video's highlights, and emphasize the programs positive message.
"After [the presenter] left, the students were positive and receptive in a discussion." Teacher
"Wonderful! Well done! Excellent!" Teacher
Have the Program at Your School or Organization
SAFE has been well received by students, teachers, and parents for years. If you are interested in having the SAFE program presented at your school, contact Shannon Bond, SAFE program presenter, at (770) 401-4201 for more information.
"Parents who attend the program were positive, impressed, and are in support of the program and its goals." Teacher
Harbor House provides prevention training programs that educate adults to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child abuse, and motivates them to take action when abuse is suspected. The program is designed for organizations serving children and youth. Contact us for more information or to schedule a training.
The curriculum can be used by individuals or organizations who are:
- Seeking training for staff and volunteers in the prevention of child sexual abuse
- Wanting to make a difference in their community by educating adults about the protection of children
- Needing to respond to insurance requirements regarding child protection
The program includes:
- Interactive case studies based upon actual events where professionals and caregivers were faced with situations where they had to make decisions and take actions to help stop abuse
- Opportunity for discussion about important issues in sexual abuse prevention and the relevance of these issues within organizations that serve children and adolescents
- Discussion of recent updates to Georgia State Laws in regards to mandated reporting
A child's safety is an adult's job.
Children are often taught in schools on how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse and that's important for them to learn. However, that's no substitute for adult responsibility. We make sure our children wear seat belts. We walk them across busy streets. We store toxic household cleaners out of reach. Why, then, would we leave the job of preventing child sexual abuse solely to children and, "the system"?
Learn some simple steps that you, as an adult, can do to protect children:
- Learn the facts and understand the risks. Realities, not trust, should influence your decisions regarding your child.
- Minimize opportunity. If you eliminate or reduce one-adult/one-child situations, you'll lower the risk of your child becoming a victim.
- Talk about it. Children usually keep abuse a secret. However barriers can be broken down by talking openly about it.
- Stay alert. Don't expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. If there are signs, they are easily attributed to other things.
- Make a plan. Be ready if your child tells you that he/she has been abused.
- Act on suspicions. If you have a concern, take action!
People who abuse children look and act just like everyone else. In fact, they often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to children. Perpetrators gain trust in the child and the child's parents. This process, called grooming, can sometimes last for years. Physical contact with the child often begins with "out-in-the-open" touches that appear appropriate and normal--a pat on the shoulder, an occasional hug, a tickle on the back of the neck... As the child becomes accustomed to these touches, the perpetrator moves towards inappropriate touching.
- Statistically, your child will endure sexual abuse for 6 months before making an outcry.
- Only one in ten child victims reports the abuse.
- Teaching your kids 'stranger danger' protects them from less then 1% of abusers/perpetrators. That leaves your child vulnerable to millions of perpetrators--and YOUR child fits the profile that a perpetrator (somewhere) seeks. Teach your children that NOBODY has a right to touch them inappropriately--even neighbors, step-parents, relatives, or siblings.
- Abusers can target (in order of likelihood--first being most) a neighbor's child, step-child, niece/nephew, biological child, sibling, stranger, grandchild, and others.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to absolutely guarantee that your child will not be abused. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the chances of abuse occurring. There are also steps you can take to increase the likelihood that your child tells right away when inappropriate touching occurs. Understand that abusers often become friendly with potential victims and their families, enjoying family activities and earning family trust.
- Talk to your children about appropriate/inappropriate touching.
- Avoid placing your child alone with one adult. Look for group situations instead.
- Lobby for policies limiting one-adult/one-child situations in all youth-related activities such as faith groups, sports teams, and school clubs. Make sure parents can interrupt or observe activities at any time and that background checks are done on people working directly with children. Tell those that work with your child in these settings that you have talked to your children about appropriate/inappropriate touching.
- Insist that these groups train their staff to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
- Drop in unexpectedly when your child is alone with any adult or older child.
- Monitor your child's Internet use, as this is how child molesters often interact privately with children, with the goal of luring them into physical contact.
- Set an example by personally avoiding one-adult/one-child situations with children.
Understand why children won't tell...
- Children are afraid of disappointing their parents. They're also afraid of disrupting the family.
- The abuser sometimes threatens the child or a family member.
- The abuser shames the child, points out that she let it happen, or tells her that her parents will be angry.
- Some children who did not initially disclose abuse are afraid or ashamed to tell when it happens again.
- Some children are too young to understand. Many abusers tell children the abuse is 'okay' or a 'game.'
Know how children communicate:
- Children who do disclose sexual abuse often tell a trusted adult other than a parent. Training for people who work with children is especially important.
- Children may tell 'parts' of what happened or pretend it happened to someone else to gauge adult reaction.
- Children will often 'shut down' and refuse to tell more if you respond emotionally or negatively.
- If your child does not talk to you, don't think it's a sign of poor parenting.
Talk openly with your child:
- Good communication may decrease your child's vulnerability and increase the likelihood that he will tell you if he is sexually abused.
- Teach your child that it is your job to protect him.
- Teach your child that it is not his/her responsibility to protect others.
- Demonstrate daily that you will not be angry, no matter what your child tells you about any aspect of his life.
- Listen quietly. Children have a hard time telling parents about troubling events.
- Teach your child about her body, about what abuse is. Teach him/her words that help her discuss parts of the body comfortably with you.
- Tell the child the NOBODY should touch his/her private parts unless it's to help keep him/her clean or healthy.
- Start early and talk often. Use everyday opportunities to talk about sexual abuse.
Contrary to popular belief, there probably will not be any signs of sexual abuse if a child is molested. Physical findings are not common. However, redness, rashes or swelling in the genital area, urinary tract infections or other such symptoms should not go ignored. Also, physical problems associated with anxiety, such as chronic stomach pain or headaches, may occur.
Emotional or behavioral signals are more common. However, some children do not show any obvious emotional distress. Some children can be abused and maintain "honor roll" status. If there are emotional changes, these changes can run from 'too perfect' behavior, to withdrawal and depression, to unexplained anger and rebellion.
- Sexual behavior and language that are not age-appropriate can be a red flag.
- Be aware that in some children there are no signs whatsoever.