Carolyn Brose (facing), New Vrindavana, West Virginia, and Sri Radhika devi dasi (St. Louis, Missouri)
By Mantrini devi dasi
The ISKCON Child Protection Office held a three-day child abuse safety training program the first week in May in New Vrindavana. Seven devotees (teachers, Sunday School teachers and social workers) representing St. Louis, Missouri; Detroit, Michigan; and New Vrindavana, West Virginia; attended the training. The training program, called Good Touch Bad TouchÂ©, (GTBT) is an age-appropriate, child abuse safety program used in more than 5,000 schools for more than 23 years throughout America. Tamohara das, Director of the ISKCON Child Protection Office (CPO), and his wife, Mantrini devi dasi, certified GTBT trainers, conducted the program.
The Good Touch Bad TouchÂ© curriculum (www.goodtouchbadtouch.com )was developed in 1983 and is currently used in American public schools from pre-school to sixth grade. The GTBT concepts are introduced to children in the first grade and every year thereafter, in an age-appropriate manner, so children have a thorough body safety education by the time they reach junior high. Through this curriculum, children learn skills to help protect themselves from sexual, physical, or emotional abuse; either from those people they know or from strangers. They learn how to deal with abusers, as well as school bullies. They learn strategies to handle abusive situations, learn to tell and keep telling trusted adults, and learn that abuse is never their fault. Older children learn Internet safety.
The following devotees attended the training: Kamalavati devi dasi, Carolyn Brose, Parijata devi dasi, Mohini devi dasi, Hari Nam devi dasi, Govinda Priya devi dasi, and Sri Radhika devi dasi. The attendees made the following comments regarding how they will use this child abuse prevention body safety program in their schools and communities. Mohini devi dasi (Detroit, Michigan) remarked, âI earned my masters in social work, so I do elementary classroom presentations for a living. This was a great program! I learned how to present information on sexual abuse, bullying, racism, and self esteem. The wonderful part about this program is that the same information was presented in various ways to meet the developmental levels of children from kindergarten to 6th grade.â
Carolyn Brose (New Vrindavana, West Virginia) commented, âI received excellent information and a specific curriculum to use to teach children from pre-K to middle school age on how to deal with sexual abuse. I will utilize this learning systemâ¦in offering a comprehensive program for families of the New Vrindavana community.â
Sri Radhika devi dasi, St. Louis, Missouri
Sri Radhika devi dasi (St. Louis, Missouri) stated, âGTBT is an excellent program based on thorough child psychology and sexual abuse research, which really hits at the heart of child abuse issues. It is especially helpful to get the training within the devotee community, so that we can understand the program within the context of Krishna Consciousness and get the guidance on challenges and opportunities within our movement. In this day and age, child abuse is such a rampant problem that it is a disservice to leave children untrained. GTBT is a gift Iâd like to give to every child I know.â
Govinda Priya devi dasi (New Vrindavana, West Virginia) added, âGTBT is a very effective tool to help children protect themselves. I felt that it catered very effectively to all ages, keeping in mind their developmental stagesâ¦I hope to train children at the Sunday School, as well as the community children, so that they know what to do if something happens to them. I strongly feel that we have a right to be safe, and it is our responsibility as an adult to provide a safe environment for our children.â
Mohini devi dasi (facing), Detroit, Michigan, and Kamalavati devi dasi, New Vrindavana, West Virginia
Kamalavati devi dasi (New Vrindavana, West Virginia) commented, âI now have a much deeper understanding of all types of abuse, particularly sexual abuse. The program is excellent and empowering. I look forward to teaching this within my community to share this with families to create an atmosphere of openness and awareness for everyone to be safe.â
The ISKCON Child Protection Office received a grant from Children of Krishna, Inc. in 2006, to implement the Good Touch Bad TouchÂ© program within ISKCON schools and Sunday Schools. So far, the Alachua Learning Center and the New Raman Reti School in Alachua, Florida; and the Bhaktivedanta Gurukula and Sandipani Muni School in Vrindavana, India, have adopted this body safety education program, trained teachers and obtained materials. There is also interest in implementing this program in schools in Australia, Bhaktivedanta Manor, Hungary, Mayapur, and Chowpatti. Other devotees have expressed interest in introducing Good Touch Bad TouchÂ© into their local Sunday School curriculum. If you would like to find out more about how you can bring GTBT to your community, school or Sunday School, please contact Tamohara das, Director of the ISKCON Child Protection Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or learn more about the program at www.ChildProtectionOffice.org.