At the last assembly of Term 2, every Sawyers Valley student proudly held their “network hands” high in the air. The five fingers on each child’s hand contain the names of people they trust to talk to if they are ever feeling unsafe. We are now more aware than ever of the physical and emotional trauma of bullying, cyberbullying, exclusions, sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and living with domestic violence. Teaching preventative strategies is a proactive way to strengthen our children’s ability to keep themselves safe and minimise risk. For child abuse prevention programs to be of value, research shows that they need to be taught over time and constantly reinforced.

Last term our teachers once again taught age-appropriate Protective Behaviour strategies in every classroom. An alarming statistic from the Australian Institute of Criminology, 2004 shows that one in four girls and one in seven boys are sexually abused in Australia before they reach the age of 18. Research is now showing that if people are intending to harm children, they are far less likely to do so when they are aware that the children have been taught protective strategies. Our students know the clear difference between safe and unsafe secrets and how to speak up if they are feeling unsafe or uncomfortable. The children are very clear that: “We all have the right to feel safe at all times and we can talk with someone about anything no matter what it is”. Please talk with your children about their knowledge of these two themes which are constantly being reinforced.