What is Safe Touches©?
Safe Touches is an evidence-based, age-appropriate child sexual abuse prevention program designed for children in kindergarten through third grade. The classroom-based workshop is 45-minutes long, highly interactive and fun. Specially trained, masters-level facilitators use puppets to teach children important body safety concepts that can help keep them safe from child sexual abuse. Children learn the difference between safe and not safe touches, the private parts of the body, and safety tools they can use if they ever receive a not safe touch or feel unsafe. Following the workshop, each child receives the Safe Touches My Body Belongs to Me activity booklet to bring home. Available in English and Spanish, the booklet contains activities designed for children to complete with their parents and other caregivers. Through this shared interactive experience, parents highlight the lessons their children learned in the workshop and engage them in further conversations about body safety. Teachers are also provided with a link to a video of a recorded puppet skit and are encouraged to play the video for their students one week after the workshop. Teachers are given follow-up questions to engage the children and re-emphasize the safety tools. These follow-up activities create consistent messaging about safety from the adults in the children’s’ lives and help reinforce that there are trusted adults both at school and at home who they can go to if they ever feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
Safe Touches is back being offered in-person again! However, virtual workshops are still available. Students can learn the necessary tools needed to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse whether they are learning at home or school. Using pre-recorded puppet skits, Safe Touches Virtual facilitators engage students in discussion, teaching them important body safety information while explaining what they can do if they, or someone they know, ever feel unsafe.
Outcomes 2007 to Present
- Number of children who received the Safe Touches Program in New York – 45,927 (3,667 were virtual)
- Number of children who received Safe Touches Program in Greece – 2,376
- Number of children who received Safe Touches Program through our partnership with Penn State – 14,000
Safe Touches for children with autism spectrum disorders and similar disabilities
Through a generous grant from the New York Community Trust, The NYSPCC is expanding its evidence-based child sexual abuse prevention program, Safe Touches, to reach children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and similar disabilities in special education classrooms across the city. Research has indicated that children with disabilities are 2.9 times more likely to experience sexual abuse than their peers without disabilities.
The NYSPCC’s Training Institute worked with experts from the New York University Autism Spectrum Disorder Nest Project to modify the Safe Touches curriculum to meet the unique learning needs of children with ASD. Pilot workshops were conducted during Spring 2023 at four schools in 12 special education classrooms, reaching 90 elementary school students. Feedback from teachers, counselors, social workers, and aides was overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of respondents saying they would recommend the workshop to their colleagues.
The NYSPCC will begin conducting these workshops at schools across the city at the start of the 2023-2024 school year. Monthly virtual trainings will also be held for parents and for school personnel on how to best prevent child sexual abuse among this population. Through this adapted program, the NYSPCC will fill an important community need, and more effectively teach the most vulnerable children how to protect themselves from sexual abuse.
The NYSPCC facilitates the Safe Touches program throughout New York City, and is an approved vendor with the New York Department of Education. Through a generous grant from The Horace Mann School, all schools in the Bronx are able to receive Safe Touches workshops for their students free of charge. Additionally, The NYSPCC’s Training Institute has partnered with other organizations to train professionals in the Safe Touches curriculum, allowing the program to be facilitated throughout the United States and in other countries.
To learn more about Safe Touches implementation and facilitation training contact Jessica Trudeau at firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2014, The NYSPCC concluded a two-year study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to rigorously evaluate the Safe Touches program. Study data revealed that children who participated in a Safe Touches workshop demonstrated significant increases in knowledge and retained knowledge at follow-up.