Talking to Students about Personal Safety
Educators often ask how they should introduce the topic of personal safety to children. We recommend that you avoid using value or fear-based language or messaging. Professionals delivering Kids in Know lessons play an important role in helping students process the information in a manner that leaves them feeling empowered and confident.
Here are some important reminders:
- Take time to become familiar and comfortable with the lessons prior to implementation in the classroom. Students will look to you for cues on how to process the information. A teacher’s comfort level can hinder or enhance the experience for a child.
- Determine how you will introduce the material in a way that meets the needs of your students.
- Start slowly and introduce additional information as your students become more comfortable and familiar with the topics.
- Talk to your students in a matter-of-fact way just as you would with any other type of personal safety messaging (e.g. bike safety, fire safety, car safety).
- Safety strategies and skills to reduce sexual abuse and exploitation should be discussed on an ongoing basis to be effective.
- Provide students with time to process the information. Do not be alarmed if they generate lots of questions and scenarios surrounding their own personal safety. Allow time for students to ask questions and be available to talk after the lessons, as this will facilitate the process. Reassure students that they are strong, smart and safe, and that problem-solving will only help to further increase their safety.
- Ensure students have ongoing opportunities to practice employing safety strategies. This will increase the likelihood that they will use them if they encounter a dangerous situation.
- Conveying a consistent message from both school and home increases the personal safety of children. Involve parents/guardians by utilizing the take-home activities provided in the program.
Research indicates that children who are competent and confident in personal safety skills are less likely to be targeted by offenders as they are more likely to tell an adult if something inappropriate or unsafe happens
(Finkelhor, D. (1984) Child Sexual Abuse: New Theory and Research. New York: Free Press)
The Kids in the Know program also provides information on preparatory considerations and recommendations for instruction. For more information, please contact us.