MORE kids were educated about personal safety last week when the acclaimed Ditto's Keep Safe Adventure Show visited St Josephs Primary School in the lead up to the 17th annual White Balloon Day.
Developed by national child protection advocate Bravehearts, the show is a 40-minute live production tailored for children aged from three to eight that effectively teaches strategies and skills to stay safe in a range of situations from sexual assault to bullying.
The program will soon reach its 300,000th child and teaches personal safety skills and underpins children's instinctive understandings and feelings around their personal safety in a way that is non-confronting, safe and highly effective.
Bravehearts' education teams deliver the show's messages into schools, day care centres, shopping centres, sporting clubs and other facilities to provide students, parents, teachers, carers and the general community with specialised child sexual assault awareness and education.
Residents are gearing to play their part in raising awareness and funds on White Balloon Day on September 6 alongside hundreds of schools, day care centres, businesses, councils, sporting clubs, community groups and organisations around Australia.
The Australia-wide event is a key fixture during National Child Protection Week, with funds raised going toward education, prevention and counselling programs.
Laurieton residents are encouraged to show their support and join the rest of the country in raising awareness and helping Bravehearts to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child by participating in local White Balloon Day events, or registering as volunteers.
Government research shows 1 in 5 Australian children will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday - or 59,000 annually. Equally as alarming is the fact that in 85 per cent of cases, the offender is known to the child and is a relative or a trusted friend.
Bravehearts founder and executive director Hetty Johnston said White Balloon Day is a symbol of hope for survivors of this devastating crime.
"White Balloon Day is about encouraging kids to come forward and break the silence, while we raise the necessary funds to ensure vital support networks and programs can continue," said Ms Johnston.
"Silence, secrecy and shame are the sex offender's best friends and the child's worst enemies.
"Supporting White Balloon Day can be as simple as tying a white balloon to your letterbox or as grand as hosting a fundraising function."
Bravehearts is calling for volunteers, fundraising dynamos and event hosts with the most. Simply log on to the Bravehearts White Balloon Day website (http://www.whiteballoonday.com.au/) and get involved in this amazing cause.
Bravehearts is also calling on everyone around the country to wear white on the day to show their support for victims of child sexual assault and to generate awareness about this issue as it seeks to educate, empower and protect the most vulnerable members of the community - our kids.
Bravehearts safety tips:
- Inform children that it is wrong for adults to touch them inappropriately and to engage children in sexual activity.
- Encourage your children to feel comfortable telling you anything, especially if it involves another adult. Help your children to identify other trusted adults they can talk to in confidence.
- Learn about the people with whom your child is spending time.
- Knowledge is power. Talk to your children about their bodies. Teach them the correct words to use when describing their private parts. Emphasise that those parts are private. This promotes body confidence and will make them more at ease if they need to tell you about a touch that made them feel unsafe or unsure.
- Be an active participant in your children's activities, you will have a better opportunity to observe how the adults in charge interact with your children. If you are concerned about anyone's behaviour, take it up with the organisation.
- Be aware when someone shows your children inappropriate attention or begins giving them gifts.
- Be aware of any changes in your children's behaviour or attitude. Encourage open communication and learn how to be an active listener. Because children are not always comfortable disclosing disturbing events or feelings, be aware of small clues that something may be troubling them.
- Teach your children basic personal safety skills. Five key basic personal safety messages are: (1) to trust their feelings and to distinguish between yes and no feelings, (2) to know they have the right to say no to if they feel unsafe and unsure, (3) body ownership and confidence, (4) that nothing is so yucky they can't tell someone about it and (5) that if they feel unsafe or unsure to run and tell someone they trust.
- Be aware of safe Internet and mobile phone practices. Teach your child never to give out their last name, address, or phone number to a person on the Internet and never to meet Internet friends in person without a parent's supervision and consent. Teach children not to post pictures with identifying information such as a school uniform.
Check out websites for information on personal safety for children. Bravehearts www.bravehearts.org.au is a great starting point!