Friday I learned something serious in a CPS hearing about the leading CSA (child sexual abuse) prevention program known as Good Touch/Bad Touch. I was grateful when this program came out 25 years ago, thought it would have helped me if it was around when I was growing up, I’ve used the teaching tools myself with kids, in accordance with the general rule: you think you’re helping but you’re making things worse. You’d think we’d take the law of unintended consequences seriously, review and revise these trendy pet programs to make sure they’re not doing more harm than good. But this was news to me, makes intuitive sense, and I hope our legislators were listening to the witness who described GOOD TOUCH/BAD TOUCH as
one model that is valuable for teaching children that sexual abuse is terrible, but exposure to GT/BT creates shame in victims who are being sexually abused, which compounds their isolation and despair. The example of GOOD TOUCH/BAD TOUCH is but one indication of the need for support and follow-through to effectively intervene with victimized children who are exposed to it and similar educational programs.
Imagine the cruelty; a room of 20 kids being taught they can say NO! IT’S MY BODY, HANDS OFF! when we know five of those kids are going to go home and get raped in the mouth by their caregiver. That’s what the one-in-four statistic means. Is it stupidity or denial? More review please, less self-congratulatory and feel-good window dressing. What we need are CSA projects that don’t depend on the child to self-protect.