Agitate for Body Safety Education in Your School
Schools are often mandated to teach some form of Body Safety Education (aka Protective Behaviors or sexual abuse prevention education). Sadly, we find many schools ignore this requirement or choose only selected elements from existing programs and hence dilute this important message. If your child is attending a school or kindergarten that does understand the importance of Body Safety Education you should congratulate yourself on your choice and then congratulate the staff! :)
If, after making inquiries as to what your school is doing in this area, you find yourself unhappy with the answer, please agitate for an accredited Body Safety Education program.
Suggested courses of action:
- Speak to your child's teacher about what is being taught in the area of Body Safety.
- Speak to your school's principal. (Note: you may find the response is that Body Safety is being covered in another way/area. However, this response may reflect a misunderstanding of the subject. Either way, you will need to question the principal until you get an answer that is explicit and makes sense to you.)
- Write to your school's governing body (TEMPLATE HERE). Writing and sending a physical letter to your child's school's governing body (school council) is a great way to get the issue of teaching Body Safety discussed and then hopefully implemented. Writing directly to principaldoes not always mean the letter will make it past their inbox. Letters addressed to the 'governing body' generally must be tabled and discussed at their formal meetings.
- Speak with other parents and enlighten them to what Body Safety Education entails.
- You could go to the media and shine a light on what is not happening. Some kind of event to 'hang' the information on will be required. (If you can sway it, this is very effective regardless of what responses previous actions have had).
Forewarned is forearmed!
It is a good idea to consider some of the causes of resistance you may experience along the way.
- Some people have no idea of the issue. (Having some statistics on hand can help here).
- Some find the issue too confronting to even consider, much less talk openly about.
- Many people are uninformed to what constitutes a Body Safety Education program and fear that such a program would discuss sex and sexual abuse with their children. (Body Safety programs are obviously age-appropriate and aim to teach these basic points: Your body is YOUR body and no-one else has the right to touch it, especially your private areas [those covered by a bathing suit]. If some-one does touch you inappropriately, you must tell and keep telling until you are believed.)
- Sadly, some have been abused themselves and are still trying to come to terms with the abuse. :( (Be aware that in any group of more than 5 people, statistically at least, one of them will be a survivor of some form of sexual abuse.)
- Some people are abusers. (These people will fight tooth and nail to prevent such a program being taught for obvious reasons).
- Schools sometimes argue that they don't have time to teach 'extra material'. We believe that Body Safety Education is crucial and not an 'extra'. This education needs to be integrated into normal day to day lessons taking advantage of teachable moments that occur naturally. In fact, we would argue that any child who is being sexually abused will find it very difficult to learn day to day numeracy and literacy.
For a combination of all of the above reasons, teaching Body Safety Education can be a contentious issue. Recognizing where a person you are speaking to is coming from will help you react in way that will move them closer to your objective.