Hundreds of thousands of children are physically abused each year by someone close to them. In 2014, more than 80,000 cases of child abuse or neglect were filed with children’s services right here in the Buckeye state. Of those, more than 30,000 children (ages 0-17) were victims of a substantiated/indicated case.
Child maltreatment occurs across all socio-economic groups and can look differently for each family. Child abuse can look like shaken baby syndrome or a physical fight between a father and his young son. Prevention is critical, which is why programs, such as the Stark County Chapter of the American Red Cross’ program, “Talking About Touching” are so important.
Talking About Touching is a program designed for students in kindergarten through third grade, which offers a series of classes that discuss important safety lessons. The program, which launched in 2012, teaches young children to trust their instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Talking About Touching begins with more common safety practices, such as what to do during a fire, in order to gain trust and confidence from children, before talking about more personal topics, including appropriate versus inappropriate touching.
“The program is beneficial because it’s teaches young children to understand what signs to look for in regards to inappropriate touching,” said Kimberly Kroh, executive director, American Red Cross: Stark & Muskingum Lakes Chapter.
Since the program’s inception, Talking About Touching has successfully helped students feel safe and open to talking about issues and to discussing concerns both at school and at home. Additionally, after each weekly session, parents are provided information reflecting what their child learned about during the program, encouraging the discussion to continue outside of the program.
The program is currently offered in a dozen venues, including six Stark County school districts and the local YMCA. As a past funder of the program, The HealthPath Foundation of Ohio was able to support the program and help it expand into more areas to reach more children with these important messages.
For more information, visit www.RedCross.org/Stark.