I recently read some statistics out of the USA (Snyder,H), the most disturbing one of all was that 14% of all victims of Sexual Assault reported to Law Enforcement Agencies were under the age of 6. This only goes to strengthen my conviction about the need to start Abuse Prevention Education as young as possible.
Late last year I received this feedback from a workshop I presented for Family Day Carers. I’m often asked, “At what age should I start teaching children about these principles?” The answer is as young as possible. We need to empower children, teach them their rights, give them the language to be able to disclose, and get the message that they can tell us anything. You will see from the email below that unfortunately this particular young man didn’t have the skills to disclose safely, and was given messages delivered with the best of intentions, but which actually kept him at risk.
I came to your workshop last weekend, it was my second time as I got so much out of the first one.
I am a Family Day Carer and brought with me 2 of my parents who also thought it was fantastic.
One of the parents was the mother of a 5 year old boy that I look after every night after school.
This child opened up to me while playing the feelings game and it has been an on going battle to get him help ever since.
I was so proud of mum, she is so brave to have come while dealing with the court and a very angry ex partner who is abusing the child at the present time.
I am very worried about this little boy as he is so afraid of his dad and fights, kicks and screams every time he has to visit him.
The child has told me that dad ties him up and puts sticky tape over his mouth. He is always clear and the story never changes, he says he hates his dad and that his dad will kill his mum and sister. It has been going on for so long and he never told a soul until he came into my care a year ago.
We were working on feelings and learning about protective behaviour at the time he disclosed to me. He has told me that dad touches his penis, pulls his ears and his hair, along with tying him up when he gives him time out. I have seen bruising that show signs of being tied up.
Holly-ann does it always take so long to get help for children like this? We need to make a stand in this country!
Your work is so important and need to be spread to all parents and educators.
I just wanted to say thank you so very much for showing me the skills to help this child and teach all of the children in my group how to keep safe.
I think you are an amazing person.
This is just fantastic news for a change!!
Dad has been interviewed by the Child abuse investigation unit twice and is not too happy.
At least the child is safe for now and like you say if you can save one child it is all worth it.
I am so pleased that I came to your training and learnt skills on how to teach the child to be aware and protect themselves. If it was not for that this lovely little child would be still silent. But instead is open and honest in telling his story to the people who are now helping him. His mum is amazed as she never knew what was going on until he opened up to me. A very brave child.
I wrote and asked for permission to use these emails to maybe help other people and this was the response.
That is not a problem at all I know even the child’s mum would be happy for you to that also.
We both feel strongly about this helping in any way we can.
This poor little boy has carried this for many years and at the age of 4 and a half he came into my care and it was so obvious that something was not right.
He had never told a soul, although he would tell mum each time he had to go to his dads for the weekend ”I hate my dad “, “I just want him to die”.
His mum and grand pop would say “ you must not say that , you should love your dad he is trying to be a good dad”, ”Hate is not a nice word”
The poor child felt he had nowhere to turn and mum was not listening to his strong words of hate but telling him he must love his dad.
When he told me this I explored using painting and drawing, puppets but most of all Ditto was so helpful and clear.
Once I gained his trust and he knew his dad didn’t know who I was or where I lived he talked non stop.
He still checks with me that his dad doesn't know who I am to make sure he is safe.
Thanks again Holly-ann
let me know if you need my help for anything.
I will never know how many children I may have helped to feel safe but when you get feedback like this it reinforces what I do it for.
We need to give children the message that they can tell us anything and that even if what you hear distresses you, you can reassure your child that you believe him or her. If they tell you something about their behaviour that makes you angry, please let them know that you’re disappointed in their behaviour (but not if they are not the originator of the behaviour) but that you still love them and you’re glad they told you. Should you lose your temper, please go back later once you have calmed down and reassure them.
Children from a very early age need Protective Behaviours Education, parents, teachers and childcare educators need educating about how they can do this. For workshop information go to www.safe4kids.com.au