Observe, Understand and Respond:
O.U.R. Children’s Safety and Success Project
We don’t like to think about it, but our kids who are deaf or hard of hearing are at a higher risk for bullying, abuse, and neglect. Like any children, they are at risk. As children who might not always be able to communicate easily and fluently, or understand the nuances of conversation with neighbors, caregivers, or strangers, they are at an even higher risk of being victims of someone, somewhere, at some level.
The great news is that there are easy things you can incorporate into your family life that will help safeguard your children AND teach them important life and language skills growing up.
Colorado Hands & Voices is working closely with the Hands & Voices O.U.R. Children’s Safety Project. Researcher Harold Johnson, past professor at Michigan State University to understand the scope of this problem, partner with supporting agencies (who often need to learn more about deafness), and teach ourselves how best to Observe, Understand, and Respond to our children.
To keep them safe. To keep them free to grow up in the innocence of childhood.
“I am not sure I can talk about this. I am not sure I am the guy,” said a dad on a recently monthly teleconference call through Hands & Voices HQ.
This topic is so important! We learned that children in the birth to three years are the most vulnerable to abuse, so we needed to get this information out to families as soon as possible.
Start with reading the Parent Safety Toolkit.
At school, in sports, at camp or in the community:
- Ask and Keep Asking: Ask your school, coaches, and summer camps how they will keep your child safe. Each should have a clear policy and plan of action around bullying and abuse.
- Consider adding safety statements to your child’s IFSP or IEP documentation. Does your child have three adults he/she considers safe to share concerns with at school? Does your child know all the real words for body parts? Does he or she know how to persist in getting an adult’s attention? Can they retell a story with enough detail to share a concern?
These are just a few of the goals that could make a difference!
- Check out the outstanding safety curriculum through Kidpower of Colorado, who teaches safety information for kids and adults for all ages and whose books, including coloring books, help us role-play safety situations with our kids as they grow.
- We have a nonprofit dedicated to assisting abuse and domestic violence survivors who are deaf/hard of hearing at Deaf Overcoming Violence Through Empowerment (DOVE).
- Talk with (and listen to) your child regularly: After you have read through some of the articles and suggestions like “Helping Parents Talk to Children” at the links here, bring the topic up to your child. You will take many opportunities during regular “check-ins” with your child to bring up healthy relationships, boundaries, and what to do if they have something that is worrying them.
- Schedule a presentation to your group, school or district with us. We can bring the traveling Colorado O.U.R. Project Quilt (pictured here) along with many resources to make this a truly positive and collaborative discussion.
- Pass-It-On: Share the articles linked at the right with at least one other parent, and then ask them to “pass-it-on.”