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Protective Behaviours: A new approach to being safe

September 1, 2014

As adults we are very good at telling and showing children and young people what is and is not safe. We give them an ‘external reference’ so that they can recognise and measure ‘unsafe’ activities and circumstances – crossing the road, using a sharp knife, conducting an experiment in the science lab, talking to someone in a chat room. What Protective Behaviours adds is the ‘internal measure’ of safety – how do I feel? What does safe feel like? What does unsafe feel like? What does it feel like for me? And crucially, what can I do if I feel unsafe?

Protective Behaviours is not a set of lesson plans but a process, a web of ideas and strategies that feed into and support each other. Staff training leads to an internalisation of the process and access to the skills and strategies which support the two themes:

We all have the right to feel safe all of the time

We can talk to someone about anything even if it is awful or small

These skills and strategies are applicable to young people’s whole lives: an understanding of ‘unwritten rules’; the connection between feelings, thoughts and behaviour; the recognition of intuitive early warning signs; the knowledge that it is ok to break the rules in an emergency; a network of people who can help; the language and vocabulary to express their feelings.

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