Who Does Your Body Belong To?
If you answered "myself," you are correct! Our third activity for children is called "My Body is My Own" and teaches children about safe, unsafe and confusing touch. What is confusing touch, you ask? Here's an example: if someone pats you on the shoulder, that feels pretty safe, right? What if they leave their hand there for a few seconds? Still pretty safe. What if they start rubbing your shoulder? That starts to get confusing. What does it mean? What does that person want from you? These are the types of things we need to teach children. This is how potential abusers groom their victims from an early age.
In this training, we have children identify parts of their bodies that belong only to themselves and we teach them what to do if someone tries to touch them inappropriately. This is the fun part because the kids get to yell "NO!" at the top of their lungs to practice. The most important part of this training is having them identify trusted adults in their family, school and community whom they can tell if someone is hurting them.
Do the children in your life know that their body is their own? Would they consider you a trusted adult to tell if someone is hurting them or making them feel uncomfortable? If the answer to either of these questions is no, change those answers to "YES" today! It is all of our responsibility to protect the children in our homes and communities. Take this responsibility seriously and report any abuse to the authorities immediately.
8 Key points to remember if a child discloses abuse to you:
1) Listen without interrupting
2) ALWAYS believe the child
3) Stay calm - don't get emotional
4) Never blame the child
5) Affirm their emotions (don't tell them to stop crying)
6) Be supportive
7) Prepare the child for what will happen next (social workers, police, etc)
8) Report the abuse to the authorities