TOUCHING SAFETY PROGRAM
The job of ensuring children’s safety is a challenging undertaking. The prevention of child sexual abuse requires more than adult awareness, education, and training about the nature and scope of the problem. We must also give our children the tools they need to overcome the advances of someone who intends to do them harm. The Teaching Touching Safety program guide (Teaching Touching Safety Guide) is a tool designed to assist parents and teachers in this important task. The Touching Safety program is a vehicle through which parents, teachers, catechists, and youth ministers give children and young people the tools they need to protect themselves from those who might harm them.
The Touching Safety Program Lessons were Created for Four Specific Age Groups:
§ Grades K through 2
§ Grades 3 through 5
§ Grades 6 through 8
§ Grades 9 through 12
Each year, the program provides a theme that introduces and builds on the basic concepts of the Teaching Touching Safety Guide. The material is developmentally appropriate for each age group and includes content and activities that reinforce the message.
The materials for teachers include everything needed to prepare for and present each lesson—including additional information to help teachers better understand the context of the materials they are about to present. For example, teachers have access to a glossary of terms for all the lessons. They also have handouts and other reference materials such as information on how to respond to disclosures, how to report suspected abuse, and other supplemental materials.
The lessons are organized in a three-year cycle so each child experiences a totally different lesson plan each time the materials are presented and so each child receives the full range of information from the Teaching Touching Safety Guide in small, “digestible” bites, over a three-year period. Then, as a child advances to the next age group, there are a whole new set of age appropriate lessons that explore the major topics in increasingly greater detail. Your diocese may choose to present one lesson in the fall and one in the spring or to present both lessons at the same time.
The themes covered (in an age-appropriate way, of course) in each of the three years (year four is optional) are:
Lesson 1: Touching Safety Rules—Students learn simple rules about what to do and how to react when someone’s touch is confusing, scary, or makes the child or young person feel uncomfortable. Young people start to deal with the real risks they face when they are out in the world and on their own, and they begin to learn where to draw boundary lines in relationships.
Lesson 2: Safe Friends, Safe Adults, and Safe Touches—Children, young people, and their parents establish basic guidelines for working together to make certain which friends and other adults in their environment can be trusted to act safely and in the best interest of each child or young person.
Lesson 3: Boundaries—Students learn about personal boundaries and how identifying and honoring those boundaries can give a child or young person the self assurance needed to speak up when someone tries to step over the line.
Lesson 4: Telling Someone You Trust—Children and young people learn who to tell when something makes them feel uncomfortable or confused. This lesson also begins to explore the phenomenon and power of “secrets” in a child’s life at various ages.
Lesson 5: Grooming—Recognizing risky adult behavior: Part I—Students learn about the types of behavior that may indicate that an adult is grooming the child or young person for something more than friendship. It also helps students learn to trust their own instincts about what is “okay” and what is “not okay.”
Lesson 6: Grooming—Recognizing risky adult behavior: Part II—Reinforcing and building on the lessons from Year 2, this lesson deals with peer groups and other influences (including grooming by an abuser) that prevent children and young people from reporting inappropriate behavior. It also helps children and young people develop their own decision-making process to use in these situations.
Lesson 7: Internet Safety—Assisting children and young people in recognizing the risks of providing personal information to anyone on the Internet and to help them realize how hard it is to know who someone really is when the only avenue of communication is the Internet.
Lesson 8: Creating and Following Family Rules—Educating young people about Internet safety and teaching them the importance of creating and following family rules in the effort to keep everyone safe.
FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT THIS PROGRAM:
There, you will find:
- A general brochure of the Touching Safety program;
- A summary of the Touching Safety program;
- An Opt Out form for parents who choose not to have their child(ren) attend this training during their designated Sunday Faith Formation class;
- A feedback form;
- Lesson Plans for each grade;
- Many other handouts.
Parents, please look over the lesson plan for your child’s grade-level. If, for some reason, you do not wish to have your child attend this training, please print out and complete the Opt Out form found on the above page, and be sure to return it either to your child’s Catechist, or you may submit it directly to the Faith Formation Office.
One important note that we would like to make, since there have been some who have falsely thought so: this once-a-year curriculum is NOT sex education. As you will see upon examining the Lesson Plans, the lessons are framed from the perspective of keeping your child(ren) SAFE, and to offer them strategies on how to deal with those (whether adult or child) who are intentional offenders.
For the 2016-2017 School Year, we will be presenting this curriculum to your children on Sunday, March 12, 2017, during the regular Sunday Faith Formation class times.
If you have any other concerns or questions, please contact Andrew in the Faith Formation Office.