I usually write about internet safety and educating parents on how they can keep their children safe online but, as a Mum of three young children, the terrible news of the sexual attacks on the 6 and 9 year old little girls over the weekend in Athlone have had a profound effect on me and I feel compelled to write this blog post.
It’s unfortunately too late to help those two innocent little girls now but we must as parents try, where possible, to protect our kids from the evils that unfortunately exist in the real world too. We all talk to our children about stranger danger but bearing in mind that only 7% of child abuse is carried out by actual strangers, our children need more education than just ‘beware of strangers’.
Now, I’m not an expert in this area but I know that as a Mum, I need to talk to all three of my children about their bodies, about what’s private to them and what’s okay and not okay. I generally tell me three that any part of their body that is covered by a swimsuit is never okay to be touched by anyone but them. It’s a difficult conversation to have but an essential one nonetheless and one that every parent should be having on an ongoing basis.
To back this up, did you know that there is a programme that is thought in primary schools across Ireland called the ‘Stay Safe’ programme as part of the SPHE curriculum. As a parent, you might not even know about this programme as children rarely have homework relating to this but it IS covered in class and it’s important that we understand what is taught.
The Stay Safe is a primary school based approach to the prevention of child abuse. The aim of the programme is to reduce vulnerability to child abuse and bullying through the provision of a personal safety education programme for children at primary school level. The Stay Safe programme is a personal safety skills programme designed for use with primary school children from Junior Infants through to 6th class. It seeks to enhance children’s self-protective skills by participation in lessons on safe and unsafe situations, bullying, inappropriate touch, secrets, telling and stranger danger. The programme aims to give children the skills necessary to enable them to recognise and resist abuse/victimisation and teaches them that they should always tell about any situation which they find unsafe, upsetting, threatening, dangerous or abusive. The programme has lesson plans which cover material on
- domestic violence
- physical and emotional abuse
- development of children’s self esteem and assertiveness
In 1998, education on child abuse prevention became a requirement for all primary schools. Training is provided to school staff on an on-going basis by personnel from the Professional Development Service for Teachers.
Find out more about the Stay Safe programme by clicking here and in particular read the section for parents which offers good advice on how to discuss this topic with your children at home.
What are your thoughts on this?
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net