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 Specific Age Groups:
- Grades K through 2
- Grades 3 through 5
- Grades 6 through 8
- 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 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 are:
- Lesson 1: The Touching 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: Identifying Safe and Unsafe Friends-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.
Regardless of a child's grade level at the time the program is implemented, each child should participate in all six lessons during the three-year cycle.