This year, as the third consecutive year of the SafetyKid program begins in Crown heights, there will be a major new element added.
Any child who has experienced the trauma of abuse will be given professional counseling without cost.
The SafetyKid program teaches children from preschool through fourth grade what is appropriate adult behavior and what a child must reject – and it empowers a child to do so.
The program teaches children what is safe behavior and what to do if a child finds him or herself in an unsafe situation. By training how to respond to an inappropriate request or situation and how to feel comfortable telling an adult.
“There has been a culture change in all our mosdos as a result of the SafetyKid training of teachers and children,” says Rabbi Nochem Kaplan, director of the Merkos Chinuch Office, which sponsors the program. “Nevertheless, we can help protect children and implement policies which make predatory behavior unlikely, but we cannot say that we have eliminated the scourge and we need to help victims.”
The Chinuch Office has partnered with ASAP: The Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention and Treatment, which will pay for psychological help for victims, this includes victims in the recent past as well. Schools will refer children who were victimized, and “without a great deal of red tape they will be able to get the help they need,” explains Rabbi Kaplan.
This is the last component of the many child safety measures which have been spearheaded by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch for more than a decade.
Last year more than 5,000 children in 12 schools in Brooklyn were trained by SafteyKid trained parents and teachers. SafetyKid is a program of the Magen Yeladim group in Los Angeles. The program will be implemented in a number of additional cities this year.