Child Abuse at Miramonte Elementary School & Keeping Children Safe!



                   “Two Elementary School Teachers: Mark Berndt and Martin Springer were arrested and charged with committing lewd acts upon children.” Are you outraged by this story as well as the daily news of heart breaking stories of child abuse at the hands of people we entrust with our children? This recent story of  Miramonte Elementary school in California with not one – not two, but maybe 3 or more adults who abused children is one of those stories that can literally make you feel sick to your stomach.

                    We can’t help but think of all the children who have been through this school. How many may have been abused? Will we ever really know as most children do not report abuse?  But, what we do know is once again, this is another story of adults turning a blind eye and not protecting children. What is it going to take to get the world to understand that child abuse is an epidemic – a sickness that invades our schools, sports fields, places of worship and our homes?  A sickness difficult to sometimes ‘see’ but, life threatening as the consequences for survivors is felt forever. .

                   Child abuse has reached epidemic proportions and it NEEDS be treated. We believe the treatment is Prevention Education. However, that can only happen when the world understands this is not going away, it is just getting worse and that these children being harmed are the future leaders of the world. We need them safe, we need them whole and more importantly they deserve to be safe and have joy in their life. We must start by educating all adults. Thus, the reason for this blog: The following are some tips for parents to help keep their children safe at school.

 

Be Aware of Adults Who:

  • Single out your child or a few children to be alone

  • Give your child gifts or money

  • Are preoccupied with children

  • Are more comfortable with children than adults

  • Are overly physical with children – hugging, tickling, and handling children.

  • Talk to children about inappropriate topics, their bodies, sexual topics

  • Offer to babysit, tutor or play with your child – especially if they don’t have kids

  • Contact your children (via text, phone, Facebook etc.)

  • Share their personal information with children

    • It is inappropriate

    • It is crossing boundaries

    • It is gross misconduct

 

Most important you need communication with your children:

               

               In KidSafe we talk to parents and discuss listening to your gut instincts, your intuition – please don’t suppress it in an attempt to believe that everybody is decent and good because when you do, you put your children at risk of harm.  If it seems too good to be true….it is too good to be true. (Which is unfortunately why when a story of abuse breaks, the teacher, coach, babysitter was often known as the “Best” most wonderful person and people are shocked and have difficulty believing they could have done what they are accused of. This is all part of their grooming process.)

 

These topics should be open and ongoing conversations:

  • You cannot be scared to talk to children about their bodies, about safe and unsafe touches. You should be scared NOT to talk with your children. (Predators look for children whose parents don’t talk about these important issues.)

  • Discuss proper names for body parts and that privates are all the parts of the body covered by bathing suits and are called “private” because they are meant just for you – no one else.

  • Discuss that their bodies are special and belong to them and that no one (not even an adult they know) should ever make them feel confused, uncomfortable, nervous or scared. If they ever do feel this way then they have permission to report to a trusted adult.

  • Discuss the importance of reporting and how to report to a trusted adult if they receive an unsafe touch or are asked to keep a secret that makes them feel confused or uncomfortable.

  • Discuss the “red flags of behavior” (discussed above) and “red flags of secrets”

    • Good secrets have a happy ending, a time limit, the person asking you to keep the secret wants you to tell (and example is a surprise party)

    • Bad secrets makes you feel uncomfortable, confused, nervous, scared, has no time limit as the person telling you to not tell or keep the secret NEVER EVER wants you to tell (example a friend shares with you that her older brother hits her)

      • If someone says “Don’t tell a parent” that is a sure sign that you should report to a trusted adult.

The Reality:

                        At the end of the day, every child is vulnerable to child abuse. However, a child who has open communication with their parents, a child who is taught to not keep secrets, that just because it is an adult does not mean they have to have blind obedience, a child who is taught safe and unsafe touch and boundaries has become a much harder target for a predator and as savvy as the predators can be …they are looking for an easy target.

                        Let’s cure the epidemic of child abuse by empowering our children and educating ourselves and all adults about signs, symptoms what to be aware of to prevent abuse.  Let’s make our children hard targets for predators. For more information www.kidsafefoundation.org to learn how to talk to your children about these sensitive topics please read our 2011 Award Winning Safety Book – “My Body is Special and Belongs To ME!” www.kidsafefoundation.org/products

Testimonials

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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