Friday, June 14, 2013

First Child Abuse Prevention Class

Today was my first day teaching my Child Abuse Prevention Curriculum. Three of us including myself, the founder of Salvando Corazones, and another Tico volunteer, drove to a nearby town that was just 15 minutes away. The teacher in the classroom had personally contacted Salvando Corazones as she needed help addressing the issue of child abuse that she knew had happened to several children in her classroom. Sadly this is not uncommon as 1 in 3 children in Costa Rica experience some form of sexual or physical abuse.

We arrived a few minutes early to talk briefly with the teacher. There were 17 kids ages 9-12 who were waiting patiently at their desks. The classroom was charming. There was plenty of space and there were even two large whiteboard that we could use. The entire school was beautifully decorated and as we set up the students moved their desks to the back of the classroom to prepare for class.

I was very happy with how well the class went. We were teaching for over two hours with a 15 minute lunch break. The kids were excited; they contributed; they stayed interested for the entire time. They were super cute and very bright, coming up with great examples and ideas. I created an activity book which we worked through which covered, good touching vs bad touching, good secrets vs bad secrets, as well as what to do when you feel uncomfortable 1) Say No 2) Find a safe place 3) Tell a safe adult. We made sure to give them phone numbers including their teacher, Salvando Corazones, the police, and Pani (Child Protective Services) as additional contacts if they are unable to get help. The activity worksheets involved lots of creating of examples as well as coloring and drawing to keep kids excited.

Giving these kids the tools to keep themselves safe as well as explaining their derechos como ser humanos (their personal rights) will hopefully bring child abuse out from behind closed doors and get the children the help they need to keep themselves safe. One of the most important things that I believe we talked about is the fact their feelings of fear, guilt, and worry are normal, they have no right to be abused or touched by anyone and that there are people who want to help them.  

We started with a game of heads up seven up which was a blast from my childhood past. They had never played the game, but were definitely into it as they tried to figure out who touched their thumb. After explain who we were, we told a short story along with puppets about a little bee (la abejita).  Abejita had to talk to her teacher after an uncomfortable situation with her uncle, who touched her wings making her feel very uncomfortable. Luckily she said no, left and went to her bedroom, and then talked to her teacher. The kids were very receptive and did not make fun of my finger puppets or my story of little abejita.

At the end of class we all took a group picture and the children left with smiles, taking their activity books home to hopefully discuss what they had learned with their parents and friends. The teacher was very appreciative and we are planning on returning on Monday to do a similar presentation to the younger students as well. The three of us I believe made a great team and I am excited to continue to improve my lesson plan for future groups of kids. 

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