Prevention Education and Awareness in Schools During COVID 19
COVID-19 and Peace House Prevention Education
At Peace House our mission is to Empower, Educate, Shelter, Support. The Peace House Prevention and Education team works actively with multiple partners including the Utah Department of Health, Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, and Prevent Child Abuse Utah. Together we provide important education on child abuse, sexual assault, and interpersonal violence prevention. We also partner with area schools and nonprofit organizations in Summit and Wasatch counties to appropriately deliver our messaging according to the needs of our community.
Elementary Age Students
This year we are introducing a new elementary curriculum called Safe, Smarter Kids. This curriculum aims to prevent child abuse “through fun, not fear.” In academic year 2020-21, area schools are planning to reopen with multiple learning opportunities. Some children will learn from home, others will be learning in-person, others will be learning in a blended format. Safer, Smarter Kids is a great curriculum that can be effectively utilized in all learning formats as it includes video segments with each lesson.
Child abuse occurs at all socio-economic levels, across all ethnic and cultural lines, within all religions, and at all levels of education. 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will become a victim before graduating from high school. Most abuse can be prevented through education and awareness. The safety topics in this curriculum include respecting yourself and others, developing self-esteem, assessing safe vs. unsafe situations, understanding rules and responsibilities, identifying and protecting body boundaries, listening to a guiding voice, accessing help and trusted adults, determining safe vs. unsafe secrets, and determining safe vs. unsafe touches. The curriculum is developed by Lauren Book, B.S.Ed., a child abuse survivor, child advocate, educator, founder, and CEO of the Lauren’s Kids Foundation. Book creates this curriculum alongside career educators and guidance counselors, and provides critical safety information to children, parents, and teachers. Safer, Smarter Kids follows a developmentally appropriate sequence of instruction for elementary school students, helping children develop skills to stay safe as their world expands. We look forward to adding this curriculum to our prevention education toolkit.
Middle School and High School Students
Over the summer, Peace House Prevention and Education team worked on revamping Healthy Relationship, and Bystander Intervention presentations. We also created some new presentations. We recognized that area youth will continue spending more time at home and practicing social distancing as they have since the onset of COVID-19 in mid-March. While clubs and athletics are moving forward cautiously, the COVID-19 protocols limit a lot of spontaneous youth gatherings. This means that area youth will have less access to caring adults such as educators, coaches, and club leaders. In this time of COVID-19, we will as a community need to enlist additional trusted adults, such as neighbors. This is an area of growth for our community.
Last year students across the state took the SHARPS survey https://dsamh.utah.gov/pdf/sharp/2019/Summit%20County.pdf. This survey is taken by students every two years beginning in 6th grade. When area nonprofits and citizens gathered at the Communities that Care Coalition, we learned that Summit County’s lowest protective factor is “rewards for prosocial involvement in the community domain”. Simply put, kids do not feel connected to their neighborhoods and to the community at large. Some of the questions included in the SHARP survey are:
- My neighbors notice when I am doing a good job and let me know about it.
- There are people in my neighborhood who are proud of me when I do something well.
- There are people in my neighborhood who encourage me to do my best.
We also know from national hotlines such as Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and Utah Domestic Violence hotline data that there has been an increase in calls reporting all forms of violence. In response to youth in our community feeling disconnected and to the increases in child abuse, Peace House, Communities that Care Coalition and CONNECT have developed a trilogy of presentations to support community members to connect with youth in whatever capacity presents. The presentations, “One Trusted Adult”, “Building Trust”, and “Boundaries”, will be available through September (see Peacehouse.org). In October, recorded versions will be available as well.
The Peace House Prevention and Education team strives to reduce interpersonal violence in all its forms from child abuse, sexual assault, bullying, to dating violence. One of the most significant protective factors we can provide to our youth in violence prevention is social connection. We hope that our “One Trusted Adult” trilogy will support community members connecting with youth.