Protective Behaviours education (PBs) empowesrs children to break the silence, to use the right safety language and speak up about why they are feeling unsafe.
At my book launch of Lottie’s Big Feelings in February 2022, Andrea Musulin, Protective Behaviours author and trainer revealed an overwhelming statistic that 20 children had been subjected to interviews about child sexual abuse (CSA) from December to early February 2022 in the local police district. Andrea also revealed that sadly many of those interviews and disclosures would not go anywhere because the children were not empowered enough to give enough evidence to allow police to move onto the next level.
We don’t know what will happen to these children, but it is a wakeup call that unless communities empower children with their right to feel safe, we are going to hear of many more children who will be traumatised by child sexual abuse and not receive the support from an institution that wants to investigate further but simply can’t because children are not empowered with the knowledge.
So, what can be done?
In the home, parents/carers and significant family members are the first and ongoing educators. Through those shared experiences and daily interactions, children can learn and develop age-appropriate body safety skills.
Teaching Protective Behaviours (PBs) at home
- PBs related storybooks that engaged discussions about body safety
- Identify Early Warning Signs (EWS), the signals in a child’s body that make them feel yuck inside. Wobbly legs, heartbeat fast…
- Identifying what they feel, who they can talk to about anything no matter how awful and who are those trusted adults. Don’t assume who they are, let your child decide.
- Identify their personal space and decide who they want in their personal space. Allow them to say no to hugs and kisses from family members and friends, and instead encourage them to use a high five or fist bump.
- Empower them that they are the boss of their own body. Identify their private and public body parts, that private is just for ‘them’. No one has the right to touch their body i.e., private parts without their permission, which may be a doctor or nurse for health reasons. And they are not allowed to touch other people’s private parts.
- Discuss safe and unsafe secrets. Safe secrets are like surprises, unsafe secrets can give them their EWS and they need to talk to someone they have identified as a trusted adult.
- Share the Kids helpline 1800 55 180 https://kidshelpline.com.au/. Take a look around the site, there are different age-appropriate sections.
- Become an advocate of the PBs program and when children share something about the PBs program that was taught at school, allow those opportunities to open discussions to further reinforce the PBs language of safety.
PB parent resource WA Department of Education:
This resource is designed as a guide to protective behaviours for parents and carers.
Protective Behaviours in Schools
The Protective behaviours (PBs) educational program is mandatory in WA and other parts of Australia. In WA, teachers in all schools are to teach the PBs program to students from early years to high school.
Teachers have access to a range of protective behaviours educational resources to teach the program. Protective behaviours education focuses on teaching students how to identify and avoid a range of potentially unsafe situations, including sexual abuse.https://gdhr.wa.gov.au/-/protective-behaviours
As with all aligned curriculum subjects, the learning and development of PBs education can provide children to establish a solid foundational beginning in the early years. These age-appropriate learning concepts are embedded during the school years, providing students with the acquired knowledge to become effective and assertive in using these PBs concepts to keep themselves and others safe.
As Australia moves from a reporting (CSA) perspective to a cultural shift involving an – all of school, community approach to child safe (focused) organisations, https://christinecamp.com.au/2021/11/13/children-are-our-future-what-the-hell-happened/ the PBs education program is going to play a pivotal role in changing social norms; those unwritten rules of what has been acceptable in silencing children and preventing them from disclosing. When we empower children to break the silence, ask for help, give them the knowledge to speak about why they feel unsafe and support them, we are enabling them with the right to feel safe.
The PBs program is one of many programs that enhances the safety and wellbeing of children. It’s not just a one-off conversation, it’s learning a new language that is socially embedded at home and implemented into the school culture. If we are playing our part as an educator and advocate in whatever role we have in a child’s life, can you see how it will impact that child? How it will impact a family, a classroom, a sporting team, and a community? Can you see it?
Check out this blog What is Protective Behaviours.