Preschoolers to be taught body safety skills and to tell trusted adults about abuse, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Preschoolers to be taught body safety skills and to tell trusted adults about abuse

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Preschool teachers will be encouraged to teach children - aged four to six - behaviours that promote self and group safety, including body safety awareness and to seek help from adults when they feel hurt or unsafe, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Friday (Jan 7).

The training of current and new educators will also be improved in this aspect as part of the enhancement of support to preschools to instil body safety skills in young children by the MSF and the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA).

MSF said: "Through age-appropriate programmes, young children will be equipped with knowledge and skills to respect body boundaries - both theirs and others', differentiate between good and bad touches, and to tell trusted adults if they are touched inappropriately or feel unsafe."

Minister of State for Social and Family Development and Education Sun Xueling visited PCF Sparkletots @ Sengkang Central Block 208 on Friday morning and observed a body safety lesson carried out with a K2 class.

Through videos, songs and age-appropriate discussions, children learned about their body, what constitutes good and bad touches, and how to protect themselves.

Ms Sun said: "Knowledge of body safety is essential in preventing sexual abuse and domestic violence. It is important to teach our children about body safety from a young age so that children can protect themselves when others touch them inappropriately.

"Children are also taught to speak up and report to trusted adults when they feel unsafe."

As part of the Ministry of Education's ongoing review of the Nurturing Early Learners Framework, which spells out the learning outcomes of pre-school education, preschool teachers will be encouraged to teach children the behaviours.

The revised framework will be launched at the end of this year, with training planned for preschools on the key enhancements.

New educators joining the early childhood sector will also soon be better equipped to teach children how to protect themselves following enhancements in training.

While pre-service certificate and diploma programmes offered by private training agencies already incorporate concepts of child abuse and neglect, ECDA is working closely with the agencies to enhance the content.

Similarly, programmes by The National Institute of Early Childhood Development have been enhanced after it worked with the Singapore Children's Society (SCS).

Current educators will be encouraged to attend a course titled 'Empowering Children with Body Safety Skills' offered by SCS that will help them better understand child sexual abuse issues and use appropriate strategies to handle disclosures of such incidents.

They will also be equipped to conduct the KidzLive: I Can Protect Myself programme which enables children to learn body safety skills, along with follow-up activities to enforce children's learning.

MSF and its community partners have also reached out to preschools such as E-Bridge Pre-School and EtonHouse Pre-School to organise family violence awareness training for about 189 early childhood educators, staff and volunteers.

The training was recently enhanced to equip participants to identify and respond appropriately to the Signal for Help hand sign - which can be used by anyone, including children who have been exposed to family violence but are not able to verbalise their need for help.

There have also been ongoing efforts to train preschool centre leaders in the Sector-Specific Screening Guide and the Child Abuse Reporting Guide - evidence-based tools that guide professionals on managing reports of suspected child abuse, and how to follow-up to ensure the children are kept safe.

MSF said it will continue to expand outreach efforts to more preschools this year.