Safe kids

Pro­tect­ing youth from crime

Pilbara News - - Front Page - Ali­cia Perera

As Pil­bara po­lice con­tinue lay­ing charges in their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into child sex of­fences and other forms of abuse, the is­sue of child safety is a top­i­cal one for lo­cal par­ents.

How­ever, child safety ex­perts say pro­tec­tive be­hav­iours pro­vide the strong­est de­fence against th­ese types of preda­tors, giv­ing par­ents a lot they can do to min­imise the risks for their own chil­dren and oth­ers in their com­mu­nity.

Kar­ratha po­lice fam­ily and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence of­fi­cer Se­nior Con­sta­ble and Pro­tec­tive Be­hav­iours WA trainer Sarah Tay­lor, who presents work­shops to both par­ents and chil­dren in the Pil­bara, said the pro­gram was a well-recog­nised way of in­still­ing vi­tal knowl­edge in young peo­ple in an age-ap­pro­pri­ate way.

“Pro­tec­tive be­hav­iour is a lifeskill pro­gram that helps peo­ple from all walks of life on how to re­main safe in un­safe sit­u­a­tions,” she said, not­ing it ap­plied to a wide range of child safety sit­u­a­tions, in­clud­ing bul­ly­ing and cy­ber crime as well as child sex­ual abuse.

“If we help em­power kids with ways to be re­spon­si­ble and in­de­pen­dent and make their own in­de­pen­dent de­ci­sions, it gives them the abil­ity to keep them­selves safe.”

An es­ti­mated one in four girls and one in six boys ex­pe­ri­ence some form of sex­ual abuse be­fore the age of 18, and in 90 to 96 per cent of cases are abused by peo­ple known to them, run­ning counter to the mes­sage of stranger danger more tra­di­tion­ally taught to chil­dren.

With cases of on­line sex­ual abuse by ju­ve­niles against ju­ve­niles also in­creas­ing, Sen. Const. Tay­lor said par­ents needed to be aware be­cause “it is much more com­mon than we think”.

Pro­tec­tive be­hav­iours teach chil­dren:

They have the right to feel safe at all times.

That it is healthy to talk about their emo­tions, and ex­pand their vo­cab­u­lary of feel­ings so they are aware of them in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions.

How to iden­tify their body’s early warn­ing signs — the phys­i­cal sen­sa­tions they get when afraid.

There is a “safety con­tin­uum” of scared feel­ings: safe, fun to feel scared, risk­ing on pur­pose, and un­safe.

They should not keep se­crets as a gen­eral rule and se­crets are al­ways to be shared. They es­pe­cially should not keep “un­safe” se­crets.

To list a “net­work” — a group of at least five adults ac­ces­si­ble to them and who will lis­ten to, be­lieve and help them if needed.

If they have an un­safe se­cret, to keep­ing telling the peo­ple in their net­work un­til they feel safe again.

Bet­ter body aware­ness and own­er­ship by cat­e­goris­ing parts of the body, places, be­hav­iour and in­for­ma­tion as pub­lic or pri­vate.

They should also know the cor­rect anatom­i­cal names for pri­vate body parts.

About dif­fer­ent de­grees of per­sonal space for dif­fer­ent types of re­la­tion­ships and safe and un­safe touch.

To be as­sertive and know that some­times it is OK to say no to adults.

If a child is in an un­safe sit­u­a­tion, they should say no, get away and tell some­one.

For more in­for­ma­tion on pro­tec­tive be­hav­iours, go to www.pro­tec­tive­be­haviour­swa.org.au/ or https:// www.dcp.wa.gov.au/Pages/ Home.aspx.

Pic­ture: Ali­cia Perera

LINK par­ent in­for­ma­tion project co-or­di­na­tor Francesca Quayle and Pro­tec­tive Be­hav­iours WA trainer Sarah Tay­lor run par­ent pro­tec­tive be­hav­iour work­shops in the Pil­bara.

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