Why is it that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are victims of child sexual abuse? (www.victimsofcrime.org) How is this possible? I have referred many families to outside agencies for counseling support, including the Child Investigative Services for sexual abuse more times than I care to remember. Each time it still makes my heart break. Neighbors, uncles, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, babysitters, boyfriends; you name it and I have heard it. This needs to stop, and I am going to do everything in my power to teach my students that they do not need to be part of that statistic, and you should too.
What I teach is 1 lesson a week for 4-5 weeks on Personal Body Safety, and MANY times I get at least one student per grade that will say they need to speak to me in private. These lessons empower students to stand up for themselves. It teaches them that there are different kinds of touches, and just because it is someone that you know it does not make it okay.
If you don’t teach anything else in your school counseling program teach this – PLEASE.
If you are new to counseling, the first time a student discloses sexual abuse is always a shocker. I am 10+ years on the job, so it takes a lot to shock me. There are still the few confessions that keep me up at night wondering and praying that those students who trusted me to get them the help now have the life they deserve.
What to do if a student discloses sexual abuse? I want you to be prepared. As I have stated, this topic brings up feelings in students of empowerment and justice, and they now know that what happened/ is happening was wrong. This is what I do, but obviously, if your school district requires you to do things differently, then do what they suggest.
- I always begin the lesson stating that if they have anything that they need to discuss with me about this topic that I will be available for them to talk with in private AFTER the lesson.
- Student, in private, discloses information about sexual abuse or inappropriate touching.
- Call your local Child Investigative Unit ASAP.
- Document, Document, Document – Write in your clinical notes, exactly what student stated. I also need to document the Child Investigative call (our district has special forms), make a copy for myself, and the principal.
- If there are visible marks on the student, we walk together to the nurse so she can also document any visible bruising and/ or marks.
I do not call the parent(s) to let them know. If a family member questions you calling always remember that you are a mandated reporter. You are in the wrong field of work if you are worried about upsetting the parents or “making someone upset”. Your obligation is to that child and their safety.
This Teachers Pay Teachers product is my best seller, and I feel joy knowing that another student somewhere will understand the importance of Personal Body Safety. With your purchase you will get interactive lessons that include:
- A letter to parents that explain what you will be teaching, and that they should ask their child everyday what they learned.
- Overheads with definitions to use with the words: Private, Confusing Touch, Safe Touch, Unsafe touch.
- Personal Body Safety Rules
- Worksheets that provide students to list, write, brainstorm feeling words.
- Interactive activity to differentiate the way a good/ bad secret makes you feel.
- As I am doing this activity, I am reading the book “I Said No!” by Zack and Kimberly King. As I am reading this book, it asks questions, I usually have to skip those because some get to personal for a class setting and lack of time. There are many books out there for this topic, and any can be used.
You can purchase my Personal Body Safety Lessons here AND the book can be purchased by clicking on the book cover above.