The message of Stand Strong • Stay Safe is simple:
Everyone deserves 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.
It is up to adults to keep children safe from. Sadly, children must often handle unsafe situations on their own. Like a vaccine against disease, Stand Strong • Stay Safeprepares children to act as their own first line of defense against unsafe situations.
Stand Strong • Stay Safe teaches children about physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and bullying. They learn strategies to stand up for themselves and to contribute to the safety of others in their communities by avoiding secrets, standing up for victims of bullying, and treating others with kindness. The program prepares them to recognize abuse, set healthy boundaries, act assertively on behalf of themselves and others, and get help when they need it.
Trained counselors and other school personnel deliver five engaging 30-minute lessons to students in their classrooms. Lessons include a comic, a script to guide discussion, and activities for interactive skills practice. The curriculum is packaged with a set of full-color posters, a PowerPoint presentation for each lesson, and a series of follow-up activities that may be photocopied and left with classroom teachers. Four superhero characters are featured in the comics that frame the lessons.
The following skills are covered by Stand Strong • Stay SafeLower Elementary:
setting, communicating, and respecting boundaries
requesting, giving, and withdrawing consent
recognizing physical, sexual, and emotional abuse
distinguishing between safe and unsafe situations
getting help and avoiding secrets
digital media safety
About the Characters
The characters featured in the Stand Strong • Stay Safe Comics have been carefully created to appeal to today’s elementary-age students. Each character has a unique challenge as well as a special set of character strengths they use to solve problems. Presenters are encouraged to highlight the characters’ challenges if they help address a current issue, concern, or topic for students in a particular class. The comics and lesson scripts do not, however, place these challenges at the center of the discussion. The specific characteristics portrayed by each character are designed to reflect common risk factors for bullying and abuse. Behavior challenges, physical differences, learning disabilities, and identifying as LGBTQ increase the risk of bullying and abuse (Davis & Nixon, 2010; Hibbard & Desch, 2007; Kosciw, et al., 2015; Rose, Monda-Amaya, & Espelage, 2011). Prejudice and discrimination are often contributing factors in bullying and abuse. Researchers have found that when victimization is based on discrimination, youth experience more intense bullying, increased truancy, more substance abuse, and worse mental health outcomes than other students (Russell, Sinclair, Poteat, & Koenig, 2012). It is important for school personnel to acknowledge the role of bias in bullying and abuse, and to recognize that there are students on every school campus experiencing one or more of these challenges.
The characters are tools to facilitate difficult conversations. In the upper elementary curriculum, the characters feature in brief stories used to launch discussion. Presenters should be familiar with their back-story, but avoid dwelling on the details during class.
Twist has a very strong sense of what is right and wrong, but can be stubborn and single-minded about enforcing the rules. She has trouble with her friends when she fails to see an issue from their perspective. Twist has Type I Diabetes and carries a pack with medicine and snacks. This point can help students understand medical conditions.
Liona was introduced through one of the comics in Stand Strong • Stay Safe Lower Elementary. She is good friends with Twist, who helped her address a physically abusive situation at home.
Volt is kind, helpful, and wants to please the people around him. In the previous curriculum he was homeschooled, but maintained friendships with kids in the neighborhood who attend school. In this curriculum, he attends school with the others but struggles with healthy relationships.
Jumps is energetic, impulsive, and enthusiastic. He likes to be very physically active, including jumping and playing rough. He is a loyal friend but does not always think before he acts. His story presents an opportunity to discuss impulsiveness and the importance of staying in control, both emotionally and physically.
Ray is quiet and introverted. While she enjoys spending time with a few friends, she also likes to be alone listening to music or playing her guitar. Her appearance is intended to be gender-ambiguous. Presenters may take the opportunity to discuss gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation.
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