Can Children Learn
to Protect Themselves?
With Protective Behaviours as a self-defence, they actually can
Starting small to make the big changes.
When Big Love started in May 2013, we were fewer than 10 people managing 200-300 cases a month. Today, we are close to 90-staff strong, and manage up to 900 cases per quarterly. “Business is booming,” we say to one another, and we wish it isn’t so.
As we count up towards the commemoration of our 10th anniversary in 2023, we’ll be taking these 10 months to share with you what goes on behind the scenes of child protection work, and perhaps to debunk some of the myths behind what people think we do, like:
No, we do not have the power to remove children from families. The work we do is to ensure that families stay resilient and independent of us. Our goal: To be out of your picture.
Yes, we hold trainings and public education talks with schools, organisations, communities who want to learn active, concrete steps to keep children safe. And they are all FOC. For a start, this month, we introduce what Protective Behaviours is about and why it’s relevant to all of us.
Learning to protect ourselves, and children around us.
- Do we know how to say ‘no’ to social appointments that we don’t feel up to?
- Do we know how to excuse ourselves and stay away from those who make us feel uncomfortable?
- Do we have a set of people that we can count on and reach out to?
- Are we able to not reveal secrets to people we’re uncomfortable with?
Most of us would answer ‘Yes’ to the questions above, even as we continue to learn everyday how to set healthy boundaries at work, at home and even in the friendships and relationships that matter most to us.
We know when we feel safe or violated, and hopefully, have our own tribe we can call family and friends because we know who to trust based on learned behaviours and accumulated wisdom.
Imagine if a child is equipped with a few simple guides that give them the same power! How they would be able to then navigate from situations of potential danger to safety. And this is exactly what Protective Behaviours is about – teaching children to recognise situations where their personal space and sense of safety has been compromised and what to do about it. Protective Behaviours, as a framework for safeguarding, consists of two easy themes:
1. We all have a right to feel safe at all times
That comes with learning to tune into our own early warning signs like having those proverbial butterflies in our stomach, having our heart beat more furiously in our chest… signs that tell us everything is NOT okay. Teaching children to identify such signs encourages them to be self-aware or even to realise they need to reach for help, which leads us to the second theme.
2. We can talk to someone about anything
It is important to develop a safety network that will be on our top of mind recall for the times we are in need. Children too, can learn to identify five people they feel safe with and can turn to. Think of it this way: These are the people who made it to the list for the times when we need to use our ‘Call A Friend’ card. For children, this could be what saves them from potential dangers.
Aside from these two main themes, Protective Behaviours emphasises to children the notion of ‘Safe and Unsafe Secrets’, learning how to reach help, identifying their emotions and reactions, and other strategies.
Adults too, can benefit from mastering these strategies. It’s not rocket-science but good, common sense that can keep all of us – especially children – safe.
Big Love has been holding Public Education talks since 2013, even through the Covid years over Zoom. With Covid restrictions being eased, we went right back out to schools, like Naval Base Primary who is always conscientious about empowering their students with the right skills to stay safe.
School Counsellor at Naval Base Primary, Mr Jeremy Wong shares that children ought to learn Protective Behaviours “so that they can recognise and will know what they can do when they’re exposed to unsafe actions. They can protect themselves or advise theirs friends. The earlier they learn, the safer they will be, isn’t it?”
“Big Love has been known to us as an expert in supporting families with child protection concerns,” he added. “Our priority at Naval Base is to keep our students in a safe environment where they can learn and thrive. This includes equipping them with how to stay safe in all situations.”
Thank you for standing up to #ChampionChildProtection as well as to #FightAgainstChildAbuse and to show our clients how children can be loved in big ways. We hope you’ve experienced our love to you, too.
As we count up to commemorate our 10th Anniversary, we will debunk myths about child protection work, spotlight our partners and friends; you’ll learn our Origin Story (everyone has one!), find out why our Google Ratings doesn’t look good, and more.
Partner with us to help the children shoot for the stars