The message of Stand Strong • Stay Safe is simple:
- You deserve to be treated with respect.
- Know what is safe.
- Be assertive: You have the Power to Choose how to act.
- Tell a trusted adult, and Keep Telling until you get the help you need.
- Abuse is never a child’s fault.
First and foremost, it is up to adults to keep children safe from. Sadly, children are often faced with unsafe situations that they must handle on their own. Like a vaccine against disease, Stand Strong • Stay Safe helps children stay safe in moments when protective adults are absent.
Stand Strong • Stay Safe prepares children to protect themselves from all forms of abuse, from physical abuse to emotional abuse and bullying. They learn to recognize abuse, to stand up for themselves when it’s appropriate, and to get help when they need it.
Stand Strong • Stay Safe Early Childhood is available for Prekindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade. The Elementary curriculum is currently being developed and pilot tested and will be available in September, 2017.
Why is personal safety education important? In order to prevent wounds inside and out, we must equip our children with knowledge and skills.
- 135,300 children in the United States were sexually abused in 2005-2006 (Sedlak et al, 2010); only 30% of these cases were reported to authorities (Finkelhor, Hammer & Sedlak, 2008).
- In Texas, Child Protective Services substantiated 5,928 cases of child sexual abuse in 2012 (USDHHS, 2013); based on the evidence that only 30% of cases are even reported, this suggests that at least 18,000 Texas children were sexually abused during that time.
- Over 1.25 million children in the United States were victims of child abuse and neglect in 2005-2006. Of these, over 700,000 were neglected, 323,000 were physically abused, and 148,500 children suffered emotional abuse (Sedlak et al., 2010).
- In 2016, there were over 55,000 reported victims and 9,070 confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect in Houston.
Child abuse and neglect, as well as other forms of victimization, have significant health and mental health consequences for children and families. It has been well established in the research literature (Fang, Brown, Florence & Mercy, 2012) that lifelong consequences of childhood victimization include posttraumatic stress disorder, behavior problems in childhood and often persisting into adulthood, adult criminality, substance abuse problems, and reduced overall health throughout the lifespan. Researchers have found that adverse experiences such as emotional trauma associated with childhood victimization can affect physical health later in life, and increase risks for obesity, heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, alcohol and drug abuse, intimate partner violence, unintended pregnancies, and depression (Felitti et al, 1998).
In addition to the significant health and mental health costs, child abuse and neglect carries a significant economic burden that affects us all. Researchers estimate that the lifetime economic impact of child abuse and neglect cases occurring in 2008 will be, conservatively, $124 billion. In 2012 alone, the direct and indirect costs of responding to child abuse and neglect are estimated to be over $80 billion in taxpayer dollars (Gelles & Perlman, 2012). In other words, the United States pays $220 million per day to deal with the consequences of child abuse and neglect.
The cycle of abuse will continue from generation to generation until children and adolescents are taught how to stay safe, how to handle threatening situations, and how to get help. Stand Strong • Stay Safe is a primary prevention program; it seeks to reduce the likelihood of child maltreatment and victimization and improve the overall wellbeing of children.
Trained educators, counselors, and social workers present engaging, non-threatening content in English and Spanish to students in a variety of educational settings. The program uses active learning techniques such as group discussion and situational problem solving along with age-appropriate curricula, materials, and follow-up activities.
Early Childhood – Prekindergarten through First Grade
- The Power of Kind Words (Emotional Abuse)
- Inappropriate Touch (Sexual Abuse)
- Neglect and Physical Abuse
Second Grade through Fourth Grade
- Be Assertive
- Boundaries and Consent
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Emotional Abuse and Bullying
- Students learn to use assertiveness to solve problems.
- Students learn the importance of emotional control and techniques to stay in control.
- Students learn the warning signs of abuse and how to get help.
- Students learn that abuse is NEVER the victim’s fault
- Students engage parents by providing take-home materials for them to read
- Students and parents will gain knowledge that will make children safer by reducing the chances of being abused.
Stand Strong • Stay Safe is a research informed curriculum. At its core are the best practices for child sexual abuse prevention, bullying prevention, assertion theory, and resilience.