Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Teaching Touching Safety

There's a program in the catholic religion offered to children in catechism called "Teaching Touching Safety." It began as a response to recent and rampant abuse allegations in the Catholic Church. Catholic priests came under immense scrutiny for abusing children or hiding abuse of other priests. This happening to children is inexcusable. It's sad this is what the church has had to implement within children's curriculum, but still beneficial since the content may help any it reaches.

Many things came up for me as I learned about this program. Firstly, I was disappointed with the church's recently tarnished reputation. Next, I was happy that my children would be taught about safe versus unsafe touches, online safety techniques and anti-bullying principles. The lessons go well beyond avoiding molestation. 

Second, this curriculum got me thinking about vigilance in my own home. As a child I was left unsupervised a lot. I was also vulnerable and usually very lonely. These aspects of my upbringing were a recipe for disaster, but that doesn't mean my children have to suffer the same cycle of vulnerability. 

I took this opportunity to learn about how I can further open up lines of healthy communication with my kids. For starters, the hubby and I make sure not to ridicule our children and often ask them to share their day with us. We also cover a pretty standard "no one can touch your privates" policy. We cover what privates are and why a parent must be in the room if ever a doctor needs to see or touch their private parts.

Moreover, we remind our children to be confident in all things and speak up against any and everything that makes them feel uncomfortable. This is key for children. Confident children who are inquisitive are usually left alone by predatory adults seeking to harm them. For this reason, confidence 101 is a big lesson in our home. 

Just last night we talked with our son about how open we are to any and every conversation. Lately when we ask him about "liking girls" he gets awkward, so my hubby used this experience to explain that awkwardness is self-imposed and that as his parents we'll always strive to come from an open, non-judgmental place. We also reminded him that if someone ever asked him to "keep a secret" or "don't tell your parents" and such then that should be a big red flag!

What are your go-to talking points when preparing children to protect themselves from unsafe people or unsafe situations?

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