Sometimes called the “good touch bad touch” discussion or teaching kids about “safe” and “unsafe” touching, it’s important for children to learn the concepts of consent and body autonomy at a young age.
Consent Education for Kids
That’s easier said than done, right? Say the words “body safety” to a young child, and they likely won’t know what you’re talking about. And discussions of sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement are not exactly right for circle time in kindergarten. You want the language to be age-appropriate, and yet the conversations and education has changed a lot since you were a kid — if you even got that talk at all. So how do you talk about consent and boundaries with your younger students?
In a Teach Starter podcast last year, teacher and host Bronwyn Brady spoke with children’s author Jayneen Sanders about body safety for kids and the importance of educating and empowering young children with the knowledge and skills surrounding body safety. Sanders noticed students were being educated about road safety, water safety, but body safety and body boundaries were not being covered adequately in primary school classrooms. This is when she set out to help parents, caregivers and teachers broach the subject of self-protection and to encourage children to speak up.
One powerful way to discuss topics like inappropriate touching with kids and their rights to make decisions about their bodies is to pull out the children’s books.
Children’s literature has a powerful way of helping both educators and children break down big topics such as body safety. In this blog, we highlight some of Jayneen’s powerful children’s books that are a great tool for introducing body safety to your students.
Body Safety Books and Activities for the Classroom
Along with any children’s literature, it’s important that as educators, we familiarize ourselves with texts before deciding if it’s right for our class. Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, these books are no different, but you’ll find that they’ve been designed to make the teaching of body safety simple, age-appropriate, and empowering.
This beautifully written and illustrated children’s book covers the 26 ‘key’ letters and accompanying words to help children learn and consolidate crucial life-changing body safety and consent skills. The child-centered questions and illustrations reinforce key skills such as consent, respect, body boundaries, safe and unsafe touch, private parts, Early Warning Signs and Safety Network.
The letter ‘M’ in this fantastic children’s book stands for – ‘My Safety Network’. This is a simple yet effective bit of knowledge that children can take away with them as a skill for body safety. It talks about each child’s safety network and uses the visual of a hand.
A great activity for students to do is trace over their hand and write a list of five adults who they trust in each of the fingers.
The illustrations in this book are truly wonderful and will instantly engage your students with the topic of body safety. Similar to the book ‘ABC of Body Safety and Consent,’ this covers a range of age-appropriate topics but through the eyes of a girl named Izzy. The child-friendly language and cheerful illustrations are empowering to young children.
Throughout the book, children will learn about:
- safe and unsafe feelings
- early warning signs
- safety network
- private parts
- safe and unsafe touch
- the difference between secrets and surprises
- respecting body boundaries.
At the start of this book, Izzy talks about different feelings and gets the reader to think about what affects their feelings. It is important for children to be in tune with their own emotions, but sometimes, different feelings need to be explicitly taught. We have a range of teaching resources that will support the teaching and learning of emotions for children.
Children’s Book – ‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’
(Suitable for Parents or Caregivers to Read)
“Sir Alfred has a terrible secret. A secret that should never ever be kept. But who will poor little Sir Alfred tell? Who can he trust?”
This children’s storybook sensitively broaches the subject of keeping children safe from inappropriate touch. Due to the sensitive nature of this children’s storybook, it is advised that a parent or caregiver read children this.
“Remember, some secrets should never be kept.”
As an educator, I would write a letter to parents about the topics and books that we would be reading in class. This is a great opportunity to also send home some of the language and phrases we will be using in the classroom.
This is another beautifully illustrated and engaging book written to educate young children about body boundaries. The book provides familiar scenarios for the children to engage with and discuss.
“No one should come inside your body boundary without you saying it’s okay.”
When I was teaching, we would often talk about our body bubbles. Our collection of printable social stories talking about personal space and keeping our hands and feet to ourselves would be a great resource to show younger students about body boundaries,
We hope this collection of books has helped resource the important topic of body safety with young children.
And remember, it’s everyone’s responsibility to teach kids about body safety.