~ Teachers from Miami-Dade, Broward and surrounding counties learn to teach
child abuse prevention skills with help from Lauren’s Kids ~
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Teachers from Miami-Dade, Broward and surrounding counties attended a two-day training session this week in Fort Lauderdale to learn best practices for preventing child sexual abuse — which 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will experience before leaving the K-12 system — and reporting abuse when it’s suspected. The in-school curriculum they will teach their students, Safer, Smarter Kids, was developed by the Lauren’s Kids foundation, which works to prevent child sexual abuse and help survivors heal. This State of Florida-sponsored curriculum provides necessary tools to keep children safe, while incorporating topics from the Florida Standards and Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for easy integration in the classroom. The curriculum is free to all public school teachers and meets educational benchmarks in many areas, including health, social studies and comprehension.
The Safer, Smarter Kids Teachers’ Institute, hosted at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale hotel on May 7 and 8 by the Lauren’s Kids foundation, brought more than 100 local teachers together. Founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids Lauren Book, M.S.Ed., Dr. Walter Lambert, Director of the University of Miami Child Protection Team, and career educators taught attendees about the importance and applications of critical child safety tools. Teachers learned in breakout sessions how to use the curriculum in their classrooms, recognize the signs of abuse, and empower students to speak up and ask for help if they ever feel uncomfortable with another child or adult. Curriculum lessons included instruction on body boundaries, safe vs. unsafe secrets, Internet safety and using an “I Mean Business Voice” to ask for help.
“My team and I evaluate more than 1500 cases of suspected child maltreatment each year,” said Dr. Lambert. “We know that the majority of maltreatment is preventable. There is no doubt that through education of children and their caregivers as well as through increased awareness of the community at large, that most sexual abuse is preventable. I am grateful for the work of Lauren and her team to protect children and to continue to raise the awareness of the need to protect our youth.”
“The personal safety and well-being of children are vitally important,” said Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho. “Miami-Dade County Public Schools is pleased to partner with Lauren’s Kids to empower children so that they know how to protect themselves and to heighten their awareness of harmful and formidable situations. The implementation of the Safer, Smarter Kids curricula will provide students with information, resources and protective skills critical to ensuring their personal safety.”
Lauren’s Kids developed Safer, Smarter Kids alongside career educators and a developmental psychologist to not only educate children, but also teachers and parents. The age-appropriate abuse prevention curriculum is currently being used in more than 16,000 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classrooms across the state at the direction of the 2012 Florida Legislature; effectiveness testing of the early childhood abuse prevention curriculum by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence showed a 77 percent learning gain in children’s knowledge of critical personal safety information. Building on those results, the Legislature approved the expansion of the curriculum to Grades1-3, currently being distributed through statewide Teachers’ Institutes, as well as Grades 4, 5, middle and high school (Safer, Smarter Teens) to follow next year.
“As a survivor of years of child abuse, I know this curriculum has the power to save lives,” said Lauren Book, founder and CEO of Lauren’s Kids. “Will it stop every abuse incident from occurring? No. But it will empower children to access help so that they will not have to suffer years and years of daily abuse, like I did.
“I want to thank these educators for committing to the safety of the children in their classrooms, and for their willingness to step up to protect the young lives they impact on a daily basis.”
By attending the Institute, teachers received free curriculum “kits” with materials specific to their grade level and access to an online Community of Practice. Each curriculum kit contains a teacher’s guide, instructional DVD, parent letters in English, Spanish and Creole, classroom activity materials and more. Every grade level’s curriculum includes five to eight lessons that are aligned to the Florida Standards and Next Generation Sunshine State Standards for easy integration into the classroom. Each lesson includes a 10-minute video component, 30-minute classroom activity and take-home materials to involve parents in this important education.
“When you talk about a sexual abuse prevention curriculum, you sometimes hear ‘How are you going to talk about sexual abuse prevention with elementary school students? It’s just not age appropriate…’,” said Ingrid Ortega, a Miami-Dade public school teacher and supporter of the curriculum.
“But it’s SO developmentally and age appropriate — teaching from a place of fun, not fear,” chimed in Linda Noble, Ortega’s peer at Kenwood K-8, “I can’t wait to get back to my classroom to use the curriculum with my students. What we’re really doing is giving kids the power to use their voice…we’re empowering them. And that’s a big deal.”
About Lauren’s Kids
An official 501(c)(3) since 2007, Lauren’s Kids is based in South Florida and educates adults and children about sexual abuse prevention through in-school curricula, awareness campaigns and speaking engagements around the country and the world. The organization also leads an annual, statewide “Walk in My Shoes” awareness walk across the state of Florida – 1,500 miles from Key West to Tallahassee – and provides more than 7 million education and awareness materials statewide through direct mail every year. The foundation has helped advocate for the passage of nearly two dozen laws to support survivors and protect children from predators. The organization’s mission is to prevent sexual abuse through education and awareness, and to help survivors heal with guidance and support. For more information, visit LaurensKids.org.
About Safer, Smarter Kids
Safer, Smarter Kids is a series of child abuse prevention education curriculum designed to empower children to protect themselves in situations where someone could abuse them. Children are armed with protective principles and vocabulary to express their feelings and talk to a trusted adult. The curriculum was developed by Lauren Book, M.S.Ed., child abuse survivor, child advocate and educator, and founder and CEO of the Lauren’s Kids Foundation. Lauren’s Kids, career educators and guidance counselors developed the curriculum to provide critical safety information to children, parents and teachers. For more information, visit SaferSmarterKids.org.