At your age friends are beginning to feel more important than family. This is all normal and part of the way normal development works. Adolescents are much more likely to confide in peers than in adults and we get that. For most things in life that’s ok and is part of growing up. There are moments however, where us grown ups can be of good use. I know, shocking. Some things are just too much for a peer, or more experience is needed from an adult. Everything we spoke about last lesson about body boundaries is a great example. If someone violates a boundary it’s crucial to find an adult to talk to in order to keep you safe. Finding what we call trusted adults is important. Trusted adults will be people in your lives that you feel safe and comfortable with. They are adults that will help when you are in need and are there for important conversations. (show image of hand).
Having a few trusted adults is important because it may happen that your first adult is busy and you need someone immediately. You can then move on to the next one and so on. Another important point is that you may have chosen someone to be on your trusted adult list, but then that person violated a boundary of yours by making you uncomfortable. You can always change your list as you need. A trusted adult should be there to protect you. (Give everyone a moment to think about who may be on that list and see if a discussion around this would be warranted.)
Trusted adults will be important in our next discussion about the differences between a surprise and a secret.
A surprise has an expiration date, an ending as to when it will be revealed. A secret is something that someone asks you to keep and never to reveal. This can be unsafe.
How do you know if a secret is unsafe? What if a friend confides in you and tells you something that you believe is dangerous for them? Do you tell? What if your friend swears you to secrecy? You can be feeling completely mixed up and not know what to do. Some of these are difficult and you will need to enlist the help of one of your trusted adults. Let’s talk about some examples. (show image of father with gift) here is a father who is showing his son he bought a gift for the childs mother and tells him not to tell her. Is this safe or unsafe and why? Safe because mom will get that gift when he gives it to her. There is an ending and also mom will be very happy and a happy mom is good for everyone, am I right?!
(show image of man giving gift with a secret) Here a gift is being given and the message is that it is not something the kid should tell. What do we think? (have a discussion about what kinds of situations this may occur in and what the thought process would be. The goal being that a healthy adult or older kid wouldn’t ask another kid to keep a secret from their parents in most situations. This will inevitably open a discussion about what secrets would come up to keep from the adults in a kids life. Here you can show the secret handshake image. Discuss the positives in a secret such as that. It makes you feel happy and connected and your trusted adults wouldn’t be upset in any way if they found out. Let the kids bring up what they would like to discuss. Many kids would cover for their friends if they were smoking vaping or possibly drinking. Discuss the feelings that come up around this. Is there a safety issue? When would you know if there was a safety issue? What if an older kid or adult offered the cigaretes or alcohol? Does that change anything? Why?
Here is where you will introduce the concept of tricky people.
There are people that we call Tricky people. These can be people that will try to make you break your safety rules or may offer or ask you things that can make you feel uneasy or uncomfortable. (show tricky people images) If an older kid or adult wants to show you images or offers you something with the caveat that it’s a secret, that is a sign that this may be a tricky person. As most healthy adults would never do something like that. A tricky person often will try to make you feel like you are part of the crime. Phrases like “we” will get into trouble if you tell is a good signal. Why do you think this tricky person would use the word “we”? (most predators will make a child feel guilty and fearful to keep them as victims. If a child feels they did something wrong they are not likely to tell and will continue to be abused.) A tricky person may try to make you feel like you are their closest friend and may confide in you personal information that is inappropriate for sharing. Anytime you have a gut feeling that something feels a bit off or maybe you felt ok, but you are learning now that a healthy person wouldn’t say or do certain things, it is so important to go to your trusted adult.
Many kids never tell anyone because they think they will get in trouble or that no one will believe them. A trusted adult will believe you and will help. That’s why we have a few trusted adults so we can keep telling until we get help and we are heard.