By Shmuel Fischler, LCSW-C, Director of Outreach and Advocacy at CHANA
It has been almost three years since the idea of bringing the Magen Yeladim Safety Kid program to Baltimore was planted and almost a year since the Baltimore community took a significant step by welcoming Mrs. Debbie Fox and her team to town. Partnering with CHANA, professionals from Jewish Community Services (JCS), local mental health professionals, schools and rabbonim, along with support from the Macks CJE and the Charles Crane Family Foundation, child abuse prevention was addressed in a comprehensive manner.
The model creates alliances between school staff and administration with parents, professionals and the children themselves. A common language of safety is shared by all to empower everyone to prevent child sexual abuse and be better equipped to handle such disclosures.
The following has been accomplished in Year One:
– Six schools signed up as committed partners in Safety Kid.
– Administrations from five schools completed a roundtable discussion about their schools’ culture and plan regarding abuse.
– Twelve volunteers were trained to bring the Safety Kid material into the classrooms.
– Nine mental health professionals volunteered to be part of the program and have since participated in school trainings.
– Almost 200 staff members from four schools completed a two-hour training that provided education and dialog around all forms of child abuse.
– More than 2,700 children, preschoolers through fifth graders – from five schools have had the ABCD (and E) rules of safety brought into their classroom and brought home packets to complete together with their parents.
– Approximately 750 parents representing all six schools attended a two-hour workshop discussing forms of abuse, signs to look for, tips for prevention and handling disclosures from children.
In the next few months, we plan to
– Train new volunteers, thus expanding our current group of volunteer educators.
– Continue speaking with three additional schools, which we anticipate will join the Safety Kid program in Baltimore.
– Graduate an additional 120-170 students from schools that were unable to bring it to them last year.
– Train an additional 150 staff members.
– Develop an in-depth community presentation discussing all forms of abuse (both child and adult) and their impact with a variety of experts on the subject.
– Create a session for rabbis, with their support, that will address the unique role and position they, and their shuls, have when it comes to matters of abuse. In addition, we will discuss interventions at their disposable.
We encourage you to continue having conversations with each other and your families about safety, both in and out of your homes. Creating the room and permission to discuss these topics is vital for any prevention and future intervention. Your children and the entire community is grateful for your continued support.
If you are curious as to your child’s particular experience and participation, please be in touch with their school.