With parents and caregivers working from home and children learning remotely, families may find themselves spending more time together lately. This extended time together is a great opportunity for parents and other caring adults to model healthy behaviors, relationships, and boundaries for the kids in their lives. But this can seem like a daunting task – where do you start?
We spoke with Jackie Strohm, the Prevention & Resource Coordinator with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, about Safe Secure Kids, a website full of resources, activities, and information for parents, caregivers, and kids.
What is Safe Secure Kids?
SafeSecureKids.org provides free resources to help caregivers prevent sexual abuse and harassment by communicating with children about respect and consent. SafeSecureKids.org is a joint partnership between the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) and d’Vinci Interactive.
Can you tell us a little about how Safe Secure Kids came to be?
We want all kids to be happy, healthy and safe – so they can grow up to be happy, healthy, safe adults. And it’s our responsibility as adults to keep kids safe. That’s why PCAR and d’Vinci Interactive created SafeSecureKids.org
About two years ago, d’Vinci Interactive reached out to PCAR to figure out how to be part of the solution to end child sexual abuse. d’Vinci works closely with educators, and with so many stories about sexual harassment and abuse in the news, teachers were looking for ways to have conversations about these topics with their students. At the same time, PCAR was hearing that prevention educators were having trouble getting parents and caregivers to attend in-person training.
We know that it takes a comprehensive approach, involving all adults who care for children, to keep them safe, so we partnered together to brainstorm how we could make it easier for caregivers to have these conversations. Ultimately, we decided to combine our expertise and launch a website together.
What was the biggest challenge in creating Safe Secure Kids?
We had an idea of what we wanted to create, but we needed to find funding to build the initial website and first few resources, in addition to the ongoing pro bono work from d’Vinci. We received a donation from Penn State Health and a grant from The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Human Services. After the launch of the website in the fall of 2019, other partners that share in our mission to keep kids safe — including The Hershey Company, Highmark, and The Giant Company — provided additional support.
Based on the feedback we’ve received, people find the resources informative and helpful — but we want more people to use them. We recently received some funding to better market the website, and hope this will bring more people to use and share these resources with others.
How can parents/trusted adults and kids use the lessons from Safe Secure Kids while at home?
There are resources exclusively for adults to learn on their own, but the goal is for a child and a trusted adult in their life to have these conversations together. Our interactive learning activities for elementary school-aged kids provide an opportunity to start these conversations and help children better understand and communicate about their own boundaries and feelings. Right now we have activities on asking for permission, which is kid language for “consent;” understanding feelings; and how to identify and talk to trusted adults.
We know that having these conversations can feel overwhelming and scary for some adults, and they don’t know where to start. SafeSecureKids.org makes it as easy as possible and has all the materials in one place. For caregivers who are looking to teach kids about consent, respect, and communication, SafeSecureKids.org provides the best resources to learn how to talk to the children in your life because they can utilize the free, online activities in their own time and at their own pace.
How can teachers incorporate Safe Secure Kids in their lessons, particularly in remote learning classrooms?
The interactive learning activities can be used with more than one child at a time. Teachers who are teaching remotely or in-person can launch the learning activity and go through it as they normally would. Teachers can pause when it’s time to select an option and ask the students for their input, which is a great way to engage students in discussion about these topics.
Teachers can also share these resources with their students’ caregivers, encouraging them to continue the conversation at home.
What part of Safe Secure Kids are you proudest of?
All of our resources are rooted in best practices in child sexual abuse prevention – they are trauma-informed and age-appropriate. We utilize a social-emotional learning framework to help children build empathy, understand multiple perspectives, regulate their emotions, and develop problem-solving skills. There are other resources and websites that have similar goals that we do, but before we got started, we found many of these existing resources were using outdated models, which have the potential to cause harm by placing the blame on the child to keep themselves safe from abuse.
Preventing child sexual abuse requires a comprehensive approach that includes community involvement. To truly make a difference, we need to do more than just talk with children. Research shows us that children learn best when they can practice the skills they learn, which is why we use interactive learning activities. The skills children learn on SafeSecureKids.org will stay with them throughout the course of their lives, helping them to eventually be respectful and communicative partners, friends, colleagues, and parents.
What can we expect in the future?
We are creating new resources around stress management and coping skills. We are also in the process of translating all materials to Spanish. Eventually, we’d like to develop content for teens and pre-teens; these resources would focus on consent, healthy relationships of all kinds, and communication.
Our goals are centered around increasing confidence among adults to communicate with children. We hope more people will communicate about, set, and respect boundaries in order to reduce the number of people who are harassed and abused. Ultimately this creates a world where kids are happy and healthy and safe.
We are always looking for more sponsors to help us continue this mission and develop more resources. We encourage everyone to visit the site to use resources, have kids do activities, and share it with your friends and family. The best way to make sure you know when we release new materials is to sign up for our newsletter at SafeSecureKids.org.
Find the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape online at:
Find d'Vinci Interactive at: