The students this month - and next month - will be learning about Personal Safety in classroom guidance.
The Personal Safety unit is something that I am required to do in order to teach students about appropriate ways to keep themselves safe. It is also one of my professional interests as a counselor and I am a trained in "Darkness to Light" Sexual prevention programming, trained in dealing with physical and emotional abuse, and have gone through several trainings on helping students and families with working through this from a counseling perspective.
As parents and adults that play a huge impact on the lives of young people, the most important thing we can do is recognize signs of abuse. Safe Horizons - an advocacy group for victims of abuse give the following signs of abuse in children.
Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.
2. Changes in behavior. Abuse can lead to many changes in a child’s behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.
3. Returning to earlier behaviors. Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb-sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.
4. Fear of going home. Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them.
5. Changes in eating. The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.
6. Changes in sleeping. Abused children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.
7. Changes in school performance and attendance. Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the children’s injuries from authorities.
8. Lack of personal care or hygiene. Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.
9. Risk-taking behaviors. Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.
10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors. Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language. Some signs that a child is experiencing violence or abuse are more obvious than others. Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough of a reason to contact the authorities.
Terrorism is all over the news lately. With things that are happening in France and other parts of the world, we can hardly turn on the television without seeing news stories that use the words "terrorist", "kill", and many more.
We would be remiss if we assumed that our kids were not hearing the same news stories and hearing the same frightening information. Many of you may have already encountered these tough questions. I have provided some links to different websites about talking to kids about terrorism. However, my main piece of advice is to take their questions and their fears seriously. If we do not address their fears and anxieties and questions, then kids (like us) sit with their fears and often "dream up" frightening scenarios in their minds. This can cause a variety of detrimental feelings and behaviors for our students.
Please check out the websites below for information on this topic: