Posted on Aug 1st 2022
Summer is winding down and school supplies are filling the aisles of stores. It is time to head back to school! As kids are picking out their first-day-of-school outfits, read through our top three tips for teachers and parents to help keep kids safe.
1. Discourage secrets, especially for young children
Oftentimes in cases of abuse, children are told to keep secrets. Abusers will insist that the abuse is not to be mentioned to adults and should be kept exclusively between the abuser and the victim. Additionally, young children are at the highest risk for abuse. While keeping a secret is a healthy behavior for an adult, young children often do not have the discernment to recognize when to share important information. When adults offer a safe space and discourage secrets, children are more likely to share about their abuse.
2. Create consistent interactions
Whether you are a teacher or parent, create consistent interactions with your young student to develop a stronger relationship that provides the student with a safe space to share. If you are a teacher, that can look like a handshake at the doorway. If you are a parent, that can look like a daily question of “how was school today?” No matter how you go about it, consistency builds trust. By consistently interacting with students on an individual level, you build the foundation for a relationship where students can share.
3. Ask open-ended questions
While it is easy to ask a quick yes or no question, it often limits the amount of information a child will share. When you ask open-ended questions, children are given space to share. These questions can help you develop a stronger relationship with your student and provide them a space to say what is truly on their mind — including both lighthearted topics and more difficult topics. Here is a list of some of our favorite open-ended questions for students:
- Did anything great or exciting happen at school today?
- Did anything sad or bad happen?
- What’s the most interesting thing that happened in your day?
In addition to these tips, it is important to be aware of trauma and abuse symptoms, so you can better identify these symptoms in and out of the classroom. Here are the most common signs of child abuse:
- Social withdrawal
- Fear and anxiety
- Clinging to a single individual or adult
- Sleeping problems, including bed wetting and nightmares
- Decreased school performance
- Chronic school absenteeism
By being mindful of signs of abuse and using these tips, you can provide your student with a place to share and set them up for a successful school year.
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