Did you know that its actually a mitzvah to keep our bodies safe? We have healthy habits for each part of our bodies that our mothers and fathers have been driving you nuts with since you have been born. Brushing your teeth, don’t cross your eyes (is that a myth), don’t eat a dozen donuts in one sitting ect. we also have an obligation to keep the private parts of our bodies safe. (you will get some giggling or shifting uncomfortably at this point use that in the lesson.) Notice how you are shifting and looking at each other, you are not super comfortable. Hashem gave us all a gift that we know that this is uncomfortable and we have to use that gift. Its important to recognize that feeling and know that the only reason I am talking about this is because the school gave permission and your parents know about it, this is not a secret and it is part of our larger obligation for safety.
Draw on the board what we call the touch continuum
SAFE (COMFORTABLE) TOUCH: Caring Touch, Welcomed Touch
UNSAFE (UNCOMFORTABLE) TOUCH: Hurtful Touch, Abusive Touch, Unpleasant Touch
CONFUSING TOUCH: When a safe [comfortable] touch begins to feel like an unsafe [uncomfortable] touch — the touching is the same, but you feel differently about it.
NO TOUCH (or lack of touch): On the positive end – This represents an action by people whose love and friendship is evident, but is not demonstrated by actual touch. On the negative end – this represents lack of care, protection, and affection, which we all need to grow up happy and healthy.
The No touch columns both positive and negative may seem confusing. These represent the different types of interactions that can have the same effect as an actual touch. Examples that can go into these columns on the positive safe side can be a warm smile, or a compliment that warms your heart, or a remark of respect as in why don’t you just call your mother or father to let them know that I’m giving you a ride home, that’s the safe and mature thing to do. On the other side by the No Touch negative, this can include things like a creepy smile, being told comments that are inappropriate or too personal, or being shown inappropriate material such as pornography.
Start with one side and work your way across. Let the kids participate in answering what belongs in each column and write them in, taking time to include private parts under the unsafe touch column. You will notice that the columns seem to overlap as the examples are given. Highlight this by drawing arrows from one column to another. If a kid says a safe touch is a hand on the shoulder write it in the safe touch column and then ask if anyone feels differently. Another kid may say that it depends who is putting their hand on the shoulder, how long it is being left there, how much pressure is being put on the shoulder, if the hand is moving in a massage type of way etc. Having discussions around what can be ok for some may not be ok for all is an important factor in helping kids recognize when someone is trying to violate their boundaries for nefarious purposes.
For example, a hug can be a safe touch depending on different factors such as who is giving the hug, how long it will last, if it’s too tight etc. In many types of touches we need to think about how we feel about it. But no matter who you are when it comes to private parts this is an unsafe touch. No one is allowed to touch the private parts of your body, no one is allowed to look at these parts and no one should be talking to you about these parts of your body. You are not allowed to touch, look at or talk about someone elses private parts as well. The most important part to remember here is that no matter what it is always ok to talk to a trusted adult about what you are experiencing and if you have any questions.
Here is where it is a good idea to discuss the differences between Telling and Tattling. Very often kids get confused over what is considered Loshen Horah and what is about our safety. Differentiating the difference between telling someone for our own or anothers safety is not the same as tattling for the purposes of getting someone into trouble or gossip.
Let’s talk about telling vs tattling. Telling has to do with our own or anothers safety. If something is happening that makes us feel uncomfortable, unsure, or just feels a lot to hold ourselves, it is always ok to seek out a trusted adult to talk to and figure out what to do next. A healthy adult will always try to figure out what they can do to help you. An example of this can look like you coming over to your Rebbe or Teacher to talk about not wanting to partner with another kid on a project because something that the other boy said or did made you uncomfortable and it feels unsafe to be with him. Or it can look like you are having a lot of confusion over a relationship you have with a family member outside of school.
Tattling is very different. These include things that fall under the category of gossip or trying to get someone in trouble for the sole purpose of hurting another person whether it be in the form of lying, jokes, or silliness. An example of this may be sitting around and talking about a teachers personal life that is based on rumors. This is not about safety or figuring out something where there is confusion, and it harms the person being spoken about.