It’s National child protection week. If you work in a school this is a good time to share information with your students about being safe, how to seek help, and who to seek help from if needed.
Discussing protective behaviours is one way to do this. Protective Behaviours are based on two main concepts:
- Everyone has the right to feel safe.
- There is nothing so awful that you can’t tell someone else (parent, guardian, teacher other trusted adult) about it.
Classroom, assembly discussions, or school newsletter articles could focus on educating children and their parents about:
- Personal space – body boundaries mean you don’t have to hug or kiss anyone, even ‘Great Grandma’ if you don’t want to. You are the boss of your own body.
- Body safety – no one has the right to ask to see, or touch your private parts. If they do, yell ‘no’ or ‘stop’ and run to tell a trusted adult.
- Emotional awareness – be aware of what happens in our bodies when we become scared or uncomfortable. Not feeling ‘right’ or feeling ‘uncomfortable’ are warning signs.
- Secrets – no one should ever keep secrets that make them feel bad or uncomfortable. You are allowed to share a ‘bad’ secret with trusted adults.
- Safety networks – who is in your safety network? Who can you tell if you feel uncomfortable or have seen something you didn’t want to. The ‘helping hand’ (pictured right) is a simple activity that can be done easily with all ages. It helps children identify individuals or services that can assist them. Have the student trace their hand and write the name of one trusted adult on each finger, who they can ask for help if they feel unsafe. In the palm or web of the hand include details of Kids Helpline, 000 or similar services.
You may like to explain protective behaviours to parents and share the‘My Body Safety Rules‘ handout below in the school newsletter. Providing copies of information sheets like this one can give parents prompts for talking with their children.
For more on teaching Protective Behaviours see:
- Protective Behaviours Australia
- Protective Behaviours Western Australia
- Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept: For teachers page
by Zoe Ganim, Psych4Schools Psychologist.