Juliette's House teaches children about safety
“Sometimes kids get hurt by people, or people do things that may make them uncomfortable,” said Shannon Brame, one of the presenters.
If that happens, she said, kids need to remember they are strong inside. If they are bullied, they can stand up for themselves, say no or recruit a friend to help them feel safe. If a stranger tries to grab them, they can run away or scream. If someone they know tries to touch them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable, they can say no and get away if possible.
And whenever something happens to make them feel unsafe, they should tell a trusted adult — a teacher or principal, a mom or dad, or maybe a police officer.
“It’s not being a tattletale if you’re just trying to keep your rights,” Brame told the children.
Thursday’s presentation was Juliette’s House’s final Safe Kids/Child Assault Prevention session this school year. Presenters gave more than 150 sessions during the year, reaching about 4,000 Yamhill County kindergarten through fifth-graders.
Such safety education was made mandatory by the 2007 state Legislature, said Pam Cannaday, who’s in charge of Juliette’s House Safe Kids/CAP programs. The idea is to give children skills for avoiding and coping with dangerous situations and empower them to take action.
“It is never a child’s fault if abuse occurs,” according the Safe Kids flyer.
The Juliette’s House presenters deliver their message in words, song and role plays.
First, one woman, Sinclair Sawhney, pretended to be a kindergartner. Another, Katie Joseph, pretended to be a bully.
When bully Katie demanded Sinclair’s lunch money, it made her feel sad and scared. So Sinclair asked a friend — a real kindergartner — to walk to school with her.
This time, when the bully wanted money, Sinclair and her friend said no. Katie the bully stalked away, calling them “babies.”
“If someone calls you names, is it worth fighting about?” asked Brame, who was narrating the role play. “NO!” chorused the children.
In another role play, Karen Gillespie of Juliette’s House pretended to be a young girl visiting her aunt and uncle’s house. The scenario is included because 85 percent of assaults occur at the hands of known adults or older youths.
In this story, Karen’s aunt went shopping, leaving the girl to watch TV. Her uncle was in another room.
After a while, the uncle, played by another of the presenters, came into the room and sat really close to Karen.
He patted her hair and put an arm around her, then asked for a kiss. “It will be our secret,” he said.
“Sometimes someone you know may make you feel unsafe,” said Joseph, the narrator. “Someone may try to touch you in a way you don’t like or make you touch them.
“You shouldn’t have to do that. No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable.”
If someone wants you to keep a secret, that’s a clue that something isn’t right, she said.
“Good kisses and touches don’t ever have to be kept secret,” she said. “A safe secret doesn’t hurt anyone.”
In the second version of the role play, Karen said “No!” very loudly when her uncle became too friendly. Then she went to tell someone she trusted.
Students practiced saying “No!” as well. “That’s the safe, strong and free word,” Joseph told them.
In a third role play, Sawhney narrated while Joseph played a student waiting for her mother to pick her up after school. A strange adult, played by Brame, approached.
“What’s your name?” Brame told the student. “I’m a photographer and I want to take your picture.”
“K-K-K-Katie,” said the student, who knew she shouldn’t be talking to strangers.
“Just come over here so I can take your picture,” the stranger said. Then she tried to grab Katie.
Not all strangers are bad, Sawhney told the children. But if there aren’t any trusted adults around, kids need to be wary.
They shouldn’t get close to the stranger or tell them any personal information, whether in person or over the Internet. And if they feel scared, they should scream and run away.
It shouldn’t be just any scream either, she and the other role players said. They demonstrated how to make a loud, low-pitched sound that comes from the gut — a special scream to use only when you’re afraid or in danger.
“UUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH,” the women demonstrated it, then the children tried it themselves, “”UUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH.”
Then they did the role play again. When the stranger tried to grab Katie, she and several friends — real kindergartners — screamed like crazy, “UUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHH.”
And the dangerous stranger ran off.
“Go home tonight and tell your parents about the special scream,” Sawhney suggested.