Here at The Brook, we are dedicated to understanding our children wholly and this comes with the responsibility of what is called ‘mandatory reporting’. This means we are there to protect children and to immediately act when we suspect there may be an issue.
A fortnight ago we got involved in Child Protection Week in our classrooms and discussed with our children the importance of their safety and well-being and the meaning of ‘feeling safe’ within ourselves, our environments and our lives. We undertook this year’s theme of “protecting children is everybody’s business” to educate ourselves and our children on what it means to have the right to feel safe.
Using The Right Kinds of Language
A difficult concept to grasp for many, we explored several avenues of safety and how to seek safety in challenging spaces. We believe children need to understand their own space and comfort from within and cannot be told how to feel. Using the right kinds of language was our first element of talking to them including discussing the emotions associated with language. There was a great book found at the Queensland Child Protection Week website that helped us to show children through story scenarios on self-protection and seeking help. It also showed us how to identify that when something makes us feel bad or wrong, it is not okay.
Where To Seek Help
We talked about where we can seek help such as 000, safety houses and a trusted friend and talked about having ‘safe secrets’ and ‘unsafe secrets’ and how to differentiate between the two (again, coming back to our emotional associations).
Some of our rooms explored the concept of ‘stranger danger’ and learnt that not all adults are safe people. Learning about child protection so young can be a confronting topic for some children and some parents too, but at The Brook we believe it is essential for children to understand themselves and how to react in the face of unsafe situations, preparing them to be faced with challenge and risk and making safe decisions for themselves to hopefully avoid and/or prevent needing to be protected.
We believe awareness and education are how we can build a safer world for our children to live in and hope that this week stems into many lessons on our children’s identities in the wider community and how to feel a strong sense of belonging in a safe environment.
We are looking at bringing in more incursions on children’s safety such as child first aid courses and stranger danger educators over the next few months to continue embedding this topic into our program. Keep an eye out!