Monday, September 15, 2008

It's MY Body

I am so thrilled that DD's daycare decided to have a presentation for the older Pre-K children about Safe and Unsafe Touch. I know some parents were not comfortable with the topic and chose to have thier kids not participate. For me, although depressing to think about, I think it's ideal timing (age 3-4). Her daycare is very parent friendly and always makes activities open to parents if they choose to attend. This was too weighty a topic for me to not attend.
They brought in a woman from a childrens advocacy group. She told the kids she was there to talk to them about safety and asked them to give her some examples of ways to be safe. Of course, they answered with things like wearing your helmet on your bike, not jumping off the top of the jungle gym, etc. And then she expanded that she was going to talk in particular about BODY safety and asked them about ways their body gets hurt. And naturally they all wanted to show off their boo-boos at this point. What is it about kids being fascinated with cuts and scrapes?!? And then she talked about how important CHOICE is in being sure you stay safe.
She showed them a little video that highlighted different kinds of touch. It was a little triggering for me but I managed to breathe through it. Part of the video was real people acting and part was cartoon. The real part intimated an uncle who was molesting a young girl and rewarding her for keeping their secret. I'm sure the nuances were too much for the kids to pick up on but there were other parts that showed happy, good touch and even parts where good touch was too her father was tickling her so hard she couldn't breathe so she was laughing "stop! stop!"
So the cartoon part of the video talks about good secrets vs bad secrets and things that are supposed to be private as well as other things that are not. For instance: using the potty. You close the door and keep it private because it's no one elses business. It's nothing bad, just something you keep to yourself. Or might hide a present until you're ready to give it on a special occassion. That's a good secret. Or writing in a diary; something all your own that's special to you and you don't have to share. It stressed how you would feel happy or excited inside for keeping a good secret. Then it talked about the way a bad secret would make you feel sad, scared or uncomfortable. (the bad secret in the cartoon part was a little pig who was being hit by it's father....I felt like I had a siren flashing over my head! Whoooo-whooooo.....Happened To Her! Happened To Her!.....Whoooo-whoooo) And that if you are feeling that way, the only thing you can do is to tell someone your secret even if it's scary. This is where the choice part came in....choosing to continue feeling uncomfortable or choosing to seek help. We talked about people who are "safe" who you can share your secret with....parents, grandparents, teachers, school nurse or guidance counselor, doctor, priest, scout leader, coach....and that you should keep telling all your safe people the bad secret until one of them helps you. It even touched on the fact that sometimes your safe people might not believe you, or might not know what to do, so you should just keep telling other safe people.
She then read this little book (in the picture above) which was more age appropriate than the video. Not that the video was bad but I think it would be better for slightly older kids, like 7-8ish. This book was very simple and talked about your body belonging to you and only you. It's yours to share in ways that are comfortable to you. It had cute little drawings of holding hands with friends, hugging a parent, sitting in a grandma's lap, etc. And then drawings of ways you might not want to share your body like being tickled or held too hard, being licked by a dog and then kind of an ambiguous sad-faced uncomfortable touch reference. And it ended with reminding kids that their body is their own and to say something like "Stop that, I don't want to be touched that way" if someone makes you feel uncomfortable. It was well done and I'd recommend the book as a way of broaching the subject with younger kids.
It just so happened that during the presentation, DD's friend was sitting behind her and kicking her in the back so I was able to immediately give DD an example she could relate to! I'm very glad I went. Even though I'm still feeling edgy and triggered. Just trying to breathe through it. Of course, not helping is the fact that I forgot to take my Effexor last night, dammit.


Tamara said...

That brought tears to my eyes. I am not sure exactly why. Maybe that they are teaching this in schools now. I TRIED to tell the school nurse when I was in elementary school that my mother hit me and the nurse excused it away and never mentioned it again. It had taken so much courage to try to tell her. After that I think I just gave up thinking that hurting me was wrong and that anyone would care anyway.

What I would have done for a class on what was okay and what wasn't and someone to tell so that my little life would not have been hell! Of course, my mom hitting me ended up being the least of the wrong that was done to me.

I am glad that you were able to go. I understand why it would trigger you. But, to know that your daughter is safer because she knows what is okay and what is not. That is priceless!

beautifuldreamer said...

This whole presentation is totally cool. Schools need more of this kind of thing. I worry about my grandkids knowing about good touch/bad touch.

That's really great that you were able to be there for this, even if parts of it were triggering.

Your daughter is lucky to have a mommy who is willing to overlook her own discomfort for the sake of her little one's needs.

Strong and determined said...

I agree - schools do need more of this type of program. I too, tried to tell a school counselor, only to be told that I was making it up to get attention. It's good that we have people like the teachers at your daughter's school who are making it okay to talk openly with kids about abuse and good touch/bad touch.

BTW - way to go for attending something so triggering. You're a great mom. :)