I’ve written before about the Erin’s Law or sexual abuse lessons I’ve used with 3rd grade using Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept and with 4th grade using The Kid Trapper. While these lessons are not fun and they are not as applicable to the school setting (though I’d argue consent still is!), they are monumentally important. Today I’m sharing some Erin’s Law activities for primary students – things you can use when teaching protective behaviors to Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade. While I usually advocate for engaging multi-part lessons, my co-counselor and I always felt like keeping things super simple was best for these.
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Your Body Belongs to You is such a clear and wonderful start to a lesson with K/1. It clearly explains that sometimes we like to be touched and sometimes we don’t and that’s okay. The book shows being assertive when someone is touching you and you don’t like it. It explains that we have private parts that shouldn’t be touched (except in certain circumstances) and how important it is to tell an adult if someone touches you in that way.
My Body Belongs to Me is another great one that we used in Kindergarten – actually right after Your Body Belongs to You. It is very simple and tells a story of a boy touched inappropriately by his uncle’s friend. Even though the man tells him to keep it a secret, he doesn’t. Telling his parents makes him feel better and he’s praised for doing the right thing.
I Said No! is spot on for 1st and 2nd grade. The character Zach teaches about what his mom has taught him about body safety, and also tells the story of a time he was touched inappropriately at a sleepover. I love that it talks about trusting your gut and that it specifically talks about some “tricks” that might be used (bribes, threats, etc.) My students really connected with the “red flag” and “green flag” concepts. My caveat about this book is that it is quite long and wordy. I highly recommend both skipping some sections and also including lots of opportunities for your students to participate (we did it through call and response).
My Body is Private is old but SO good. It’s clearly a “lesson” type book, not a real storyline, but it’s read from the perspective of a young girl sharing about conversations with her family members which makes it more engaging. It explains the concepts of privacy, of telling people “no” when we’re uncomfortable with they’re touching, the fact that it could be someone you know/love that touches you inappropriately, and the importance of disclosing if it happens. I wish so badly for an updated version of this book because I know it’s sepia outlined illustrations can be a block to engagement for some students. However, it is so wonderfully non-threatening yet clear that I still highly recommend it.
There are a couple of other books by Jayneen Sanders (who wrote Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept that I love) about consent and body safety. They are really developmentally appropriate and well written. That said, they are the kind of books I would use with my own children versus what I would use in a lesson. There are lots of stopping points for questions/discussion that wouldn’t flow as well in a lesson (in my opinion).
One of the most important parts of planning any lesson, but especially an Erin’s Law/protective behaviors/sexual abuse lessons, is determining what knowledge and skills you hope your students develop. At our school, these were our objectives for these lessons:
- Understanding and believing it’s not okay for people to touch your private parts.
- Identifying 2+ safe adults to tell if it happens to you.
- Understanding that bribes and threats might occur.
- Understanding safe vs. unsafe secrets.
- Practicing saying “no” and “stop.”
Books on their own cover a lot of these objectives. We also sometimes practiced firmly (and loudly!) saying “No!” and “Stop!” And we did go arounds where students would name their safe adults.
Sometimes we also created basic worksheets for students to identify their safe adults and write examples of safe vs. unsafe secrets. My co-counselor did a movement-based activity where students stepped forward vs. backward depending on the type of secret.
One thing we didn’t do but my friend Laura (Music City Counselor) told me about was using visuals of kids wearing swimsuits in order to be clear about “private parts”. We both worked with large populations of English Language Learners and were always looking for ways to scaffold vocabulary and trickier concepts. I told myself the next time I served K/1st and did these lessons, I would make the visuals like she did (clipart swimsuit kids on popsicle sticks):
While we usually only did one personal safety lesson each year, there was one year where there were two stranger kidnappings that happened nearby. We decided to deliver, for the first time, a “stranger danger” lesson. We used Smarter Than the Scoopers and discovered some really great videos on a website called KidSmartz (the videos on the website didn’t work when I wrote this post but they have a YouTube channel they were available on) – here was one of our favorites:
The “Protect Yourself” Rules on YouTube also have good videos.
Do you have any favorite books, videos, or activities to use in these lessons? I’ve never gotten a chance to use the Second Step personal safety unit before, but I did look at the preK kit and it was wonderful. I’d love to hear about other great resources you’ve found!