We are learning about Protective Behaviours
Protective Behaviours is a safety program recognised and used across all states in Australia by many organisations and departments (e.g. Health, Education, Police). In Term 1 at Sacred Heart, Hilary, our School Social Worker, has been delivering a wonderful program to our Years 1, 2 and 3 students with regards to how students can keep safe. Next term she will deliver this program to our Years 4,5 and 6 students. Below is an outline of the important themes of this program. It is hoped that parents will continue this important learning at home and also help develop the language introduced at school.
The first theme is:
WE ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO FEEL SAFE ALL OF THE TIME
We will discuss what a right is and learn about the responsibility we have to behave in a way that does not make others feel unsafe .
We will consider the words safe and unsafe and learn about Early Warning Signs (the way our bodies let us know something is ok or not ok). e.g. When scared, we may get goose bumps, shiver, feel hot or cold, get a sick feeling in our tummy.
Early Warning Signs may differ from person to person. There is no right and wrong but it is important for students to recognise what they are feeling. They need to know the names of emotions so that they can express their feelings. We will encourage students to use their words instead of making unsafe choices with their actions.
We will learn about ‘’yes’’ feelings and “no” feelings and how to trust instincts. They will consider the difference between feeling safe and being safe.
To do this the students will listen to stories, play games, use circle time to talk together and engage in small group activities. This session will be followed up by the class teacher day to day at school.
HANDY HINTS FOR HOME
A child might feel unsafe about getting into trouble. Discuss the difference between getting into trouble for doing something wrong and feeling unsafe, scared or hurt. Make sure they understand that you may not like their behaviour sometimes but you still love them.
Road and water safety may be a good starting point for discussing safety.
Use the word “ safe” as part of your family’s everyday language.
Encourage your child to feel confident about showing their feelings openly. A child that is told to “Stop crying!”, “Don’t be silly” or “Don’t be scared” may learn that their feelings don’t matter.
Use teachable moments in everyday life to role model Protective Behaviours. Use “I feel…..” sentences yourself. e.g. “I feel nervous because I have a job interview today. I have my early warning signs – a churning, sick feeling in my tummy.”
Talk about the difference between dobbing and telling. Explain that If you are” dobbing” you are trying to get someone into trouble. If you are “telling” you will have your Early Warning Signs, you may feel unsafe and so you must tell someone you trust.
Keep reminding them about their Early Warning Signs when they are telling you something. Do they feel unsafe or are they just trying to get that person into trouble?
The second theme is:
WE CAN TALK WITH SOMEONE ABOUT ANYTHING
We will talk together about this sentence and what it might mean. “We” means everybody and we will consider who could the “someone” be and what could the “anything“ be, even if it is unsafe, awful or scary.
We will revise theme 1 – Early Warning Signs (the way our bodies let us know something is ok or not ok. “Yes” and “No” feelings. Safe and Unsafe.
You may like to help your child to identify a network of trusted adults who will provide support and protect them when needed.
A NETWORK PERSON will:
- BELIEVE THEM
- BE AVAILABLE AND EASY TO CONTACT
- TAKE ACTION, IF NECESSARY, TO PROTECT THEM AND HELP THEM FEEL SAFE AGAIN.
Include your child in this process rather than simply telling them who they should choose.
Such people need to be those who your child feels they could approach and ask for help at the time it is needed.
It is a good idea to let the chosen network person know they have been chosen as a trusted adult. You could go with your child to the adult and explain what a network person is – give them the job description and ask them if they would be happy to be this for your child. Quite often the adult might be flattered, surprised and honoured by being chosen.
You might like to make a network sheet with your child e.g. get your child to draw around their own hand, fill in names on the hand as indicated and allow your child to colour, decorate it as they wish.
Display your child’s Network with names and contact phone numbers in your home.
You might like to teach your child their address and phone number, how to use the phone, how to ring 000 and practice answering the phone. Explain an emergency is when you need help straight away.
You may also like to encourage your child to share good news with their Network People so that they are comfortable talking with them by the time and if, they need to ask for help in a difficult situation.
By talking with your child about what is happening in their life lets them know you will listen to anything even if it is a difficult or shameful thing. Let them know that even if you do not like what they have done, you will always be with them to help them manage those feelings with love. If you do this it is much more likely your child will come to you in those difficult times, rather than trying to deal with the problem alone. Thank your child for talking with you no matter what the content of the conversation.
If your child has gone to their Network Person but still has Early Warning Signs and feels unsafe, encourage them to persist and find another Network Person. Sometimes adults can get distracted or busy and not be able to help a child at the time. It is rarely because they do not want to help and so your child needs to know it is ok to persist until they feel safe. You want to feel confident that your child knows what they can do to keep themselves safe when you are not around.
I hope you enjoy talking with your child.
SCHOOL SOCIAL WORKER