5 Hanover Square, 15th floor

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New York, NY 10004

phone: 212-344-1902

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The Child Safety Workshop

Puppets!  They are a classic kid-friendly way to educate children.  Recognizing this, the CAPP team uses life-size puppets from Kids On The Block Inc. to teach children about difficult topics.  The simple beauty of the puppets is that they are “kids” and they tell their stories directly to the children.  The effect is one of children teaching children- classic peer education principles at their best.  The Kids On The Block Inc. puppets create a situation that makes kids feel safe; they are comfortable and able to assimilate information in very little time.  This “fun” approach allows children to laugh with and relate to the puppets… and understand in very simple terms the difficult problems the puppets discuss.  The objective is to help children learn how they can be proactive; the Workshop gives them clear steps to stay safe and ask for help.

Puppet Steven is an 8-year-old boy.  He talks about being beaten physically abused by his mother, and the marks on his body, black eye and cuts on the chin are a dramatic touch that strikes a realistic note for the children. Steven tells them how he responsible; that something he has done has made the beatings his fault.  During the course of Steven’s skit, the children in the audience learn that because Steven’s mother had been beaten as a child, she simply does not know how to discipline in a safe way.

The easy interaction between children and puppets, establishes a safe environment in which the kids are eager to ask questions.  Because Steven answers in straight forward language geared towards 8 and 9 year old children, they get a sense of the dynamics of fear, love, and secrecy which exist in abusive situations.

Steven’s puppet partner is Joanne, who represents a 14-year-old girl who’s been sexually abused by Len, her mom’s boyfriend.  Joanne talks about the simple friendship with Len that developed into something that made her feel really uncomfortable:  the “uh-oh” feeling.  Every child can relate to the feeling of nervousness in the gut that signals “something’s not right.”  Joanne’s lesson is that when kids get the uh-oh feeling – even with someone they know and have trusted- they must talk to another trusted adult.  An important aspect of Joanne’s lesson is that sexual abuse is not limited to girls; that boys too may get that uh-oh feeling and they need to act.

Prior to the Workshop, CAPP provides training to the school staff.  Each teacher gets a ‘residence plan’ that helps reinforce the topics introduced by the characters in the classroom.  And, throughout the presentations, the CAPP staff points out those people in the school whom the children can seek out for help.

But puppets, discussion and talk are not always enough. Often problems are identified which are so severe that they require reports to the Child Protection Helpline.  In these cases, the CAPP team works closely with the school and child protective services to ensure that all reporting children get the protection they need.

Each year, approximately 20,000 children participate in the prevention program and learn how to stay safe. A significant number of  families are provided with assistance and monitored by school support staff.  Approximately 150 families annually are reported to child protective services as a result of the CAPP workshops.  The Child Safety Workshop creates an environment of safety and acceptance that allows children to disclose information that had never before been shared with anyone. 

There are thousands of children we can’t reach due to budget restraints.  We need to reach them all.