KidSafe recommends: Monitor - and limit - your kids' Internet use.
Two local moms are on a mission to make our kids safer – by teaching them to be their own first line of defense.
It’s not about “stranger danger” any more.
These days we have to worry about Internet predators and cyberbullying, in addition to the horrors of abduction and sexual abuse.
Sally Berenzweig and Cherie Benjoseph – familiar to BocaParent readers as regular contributors to our 3-Minute Guru feature – want to educate kids about protecting themselves, in proactive ways they can understand.
Through their nonprofit KidSafe Foundation, these two moms – one a licensed social worker, the other a former psychotherapist – have designed a curriculum based on “fun not fear” to empower kids through education and role-playing.
They bring the program to the community in several ways:
- Through family events at local schools, where parents and kids attend separate sessions simultaneously
- through an eight-week program in schools (half-hour lessons once a week)
- seminars for parents
- workshops for teachers
- small private groups in a home or clubhouse
The program has reached about 14,000 kids over the past few years.
KidSafe brought its Family Event to Addison Mizner Elementary School on Jan. 10 (funded by a grant from the Junior League of Boca Raton) – and will present it at Waters Edge Elementary in West Boca at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 19. (It’s open to the public).
In her presentation to parents, Berenzweig talked about teaching a language of safety. (We all know what “Stop, Drop and Roll” means, for example).
“Our children are going to be safe if we are all on the same page,” she said. “It takes all of us.”
Some of the statistics she shared:
- 90 percent of child sex abuse victims are abused by someone they know (not a stranger)
- 1 in 4 kids is being bullied; 1 in 5 admits to being a bully
- Most sex offenders seem to be upstanding citizens
Some of the lessons KidSafe teaches children:
- If you are lost, the best person to ask for help is a mother with children
- If a stranger approaches, immediately take five steps back
- The difference between a good secret (like a surprise party – happy ending) and a bad one (no ending, bad feeling)
And we’re only scratching the surface here.
To bring KidSafe to your school, contact the foundation through its website.
A one-hour family event, with sessions for parents and kids, costs $750. The eight-week classroom program works out to about $24 a student. Many schools get sponsors to pay part of the cost, or hold fund-raisers.
Read more about KidSafe:
The foundation has published two books to help explain some of the concepts to kids, including a new one, My Body is Special and Belongs to Me. You can order them online through KidSafe.
The KidSafe moms have covered these topics in 3-Minute Guru:
Keeping kids safe on holiday visits
Helping kids learn from mistakes
Is there a gun in the house? Safety tips
Teach kids to say no – for safety sake
On their own: Walk to school, home alone
Reporting vs. tattling: Know the difference
How to remember kid’s in the back seat