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FAQ'S

How To Support Sexual Abuse Education

By Deanna Hynes, Sexual Abuse Survivor and Erin's Law Expert

“What do you do for work?” is a question I hear pretty often. Whether it’s at the school pick-up line or during a “live” on social media, my answer is always the same: I am a public speaker who focuses on teaching kids about sexual abuse. While it may shock some people, it opens up a bigger conversation. How To Support Sexual Abuse Education.

So, how can we truly support sexual abuse education? Keep in mind, no two communities are alike. Needs, presentation styles, and content can vary from school to school and even classroom to classroom. There is always one constant, though. Children need to learn what sexual abuse is and how to tell. And the rest? The disclosure response, the reporting, the after care…well, that’s up to us adults.

Again I ask…How can we implement this education with true fidelity?

Well, let’s take a look at a community in Indiana (for confidentiality reasons, we are omitting the district name and specific location). They have put safety education at the top of their priorities for the last 20 years.

The last 5 years, this district chose our Be Seen & Heard curriculum. When Victor first told me how this community handled presentations, I was blown away. First of all, I couldn’t believe that this area had been teaching about abuse well before Erin’s Law had passed in Indiana. Second of all, they have gone above and beyond what states even require when Erin’s Law is passed. Here’s what they do:

Every students fills out an “exit slip” when their presentation is over.

What is an “exit slip” you ask? It’s a survey that every student fills out after the program is wrapped up. The statements typically cover three points:

  1. I have experienced unsafe touches and I would like to speak to someone about it. 
  2. A friend of mine has experienced unsafe touches and I would like to speak to someone about it. 
  3. I do not feel the need to talk with an adult today.

These exit slips provide so much for being so simple. Exit slips allow students to privately ask for help for themselves or someone they care about. If a student thinks that their classmates will judge them for asking to speak to an adult, this can take away that fear. No one knows what box their neighbor is checking off. Disclosures happen when courage meets opportunity; these slips provide an opportunity they may have never had before. 

Police officers are at the schools.

For some, this might be intimidating. I know that I had fear of authority figures growing up.  But when the officers are with us, I make one thing very clear: it is their job to keep kids safe. They listen unobtrusively during presentations. They are on school grounds, showing support to every student in the audience, and soaking up the language we use when educating the kids. Every officer I met during my 4 days in Indiana was trauma-informed, patient, and totally supportive of the work we were doing. 

Child protection service workers are in an office at the schools, on standby.


They are waiting to meet with students who checked “yes” when asked if they wanted to speak to someone about unsafe touches. On my final day of presentations, one of these workers pulled me aside. “I need to tell you how well-received these programs are.” She squeezed my arm and took a breath before she spoke again. “Deanna, I made 8 reports after your presentations yesterday, and I have another 7 to make so far today. They are listening. They are asking for help. Thank you.”

Our Be Seen & Heard curriculum is the best. I also know  that I am the most biased person in the world when it comes to the work we do. But Those kids coming forward wasn’t just because of our program. It was a combination of proactive action, interagency cooperation, and a community who truly puts their children first. 

 

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Educators Play A Vital Role

By Jackie Born, MSW

We're seeing a major increase in stress from both parents and children this school year.  Pent up stress levels can unfortunately lead to unhealthy family relationships which may include abuse and/or neglect.  Educators play a vital role in keeping students safe and allowing them to be vulnerable with sharing things that might be extremely difficult to share.  Let's start with what we need to do as educators to support students who might be experiencing abuse and/or neglect at home:

The first and most important job as educators, and we cannot say this enough - is to build relationships.  Children may forget what they've learned during a math lesson one day, but they'll never forget how a trusted adult made them feel.  Building relationships with our students is the stepping stone into forming a safe, healthy bond which then leads to feeling comfortable enough to disclose any information.  Next month, the first sign to spot in students who may be experiencing abuse and/or neglect will be discussed. 
Educators - continue to be amazing, you're making a bigger difference than you think!

 

Contact Jackie: [email protected]

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Lighthouse 212˚

light·house
 
/ˈlītˌhous/
 
noun

a tower or other structure containing a beacon light to warn or guide ships at sea.

212˚ - A book written by Mac Anderson - Water is hot at 211˚ but boils at 212˚.  Boiling water turns to steam and steam is what's needed to power a locomotive. One extra degree...makes all the difference.

The Lighthouse 212˚ attitude is making that extra attempt at following up or that extra time to listen.

There's a saying, "Little hinges swing BIG doors."

Learn More

Victor Pacini - Creator of the Be Seen and Heard© (Sexual abuse awareness and prevention) curriculum & Founder of Childhood Victories Inc.

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