This means that our new program will be presented in a new way, outside the classroom. At least one parent will need to attend this training along with their student. Because children and their parents are going through this together, it encourages the students to view their parents as trusted advocates which in turn promotes open communication about this sensitive topic.
The feedback we received last spring was overwhelmingly positive. I asked Andrea Scheneider and Cari Smith to briefly share their experience as parents going through this program with their kids. They said:
What I liked best about the kNOw program was that parents and their children had the opportunity to view the content together. It was so valuable being able to hear what they were being taught and then be able to speak the same language to them. I felt way more equipped to speak to my children about these important topics and it has generated good conversation. (Andrea Schneider)
I enjoyed how the kNOw program emphasized that all parts of the person are special and should be taken care of, including your soul, feelings, and body. It gave us, as parents, many ways to talk to our boys about dealing with disrespectful relationships and protecting them physically on many age appropriate levels. I love that it gave students scripts to use, and adults to listen for, in the event of a potentially hard or difficult discussion. (Cari Smith)
Their comments reflect much of what I heard from other parents as well. One of the most valuable parts of having parents go through this program with their children is that it creates a shared experience and shared vocabulary that helps parents have these difficult but important conversations with their kids later on. Also, the more adults who attend this class, the more we have “community immunity" against abuse. That is, the more people in our community who know what safe and unsafe adult-child relationship looks like the more protected everyone's children are.
However, along with these benefits of having students attend with their parents comes a real concern, namely, because we are no longer showing the safe environment program in the classroom there will be students who, at least at first, don’t see this program at all. To address that concern the parish is trying to make the kNOw Program as convenient and accessible as possible for parents and families. Instead of only showing this program once a year we will be offering it every month throughout the school year. We have a team of trained presenters who will lead this program on the third Wednesday of every month at 7:00pm in the Msgr. Koenigsknecht Hall (school basement). Those dates are:
September 18 for 6th-8th grade students
October 16 for 3rd-5th grade students
November 20 for K-2nd grade students
December 18 for 6th-8th grade students
January 15 for 3rd-5th grade students
February 19 for K-2nd grade students
March 18 for 6th-8th grade students
April 15 for 3rd-5th grade students
May 20 for K-2nd grade students
The parish also asks you for three things in order to address this concern. First, and most important, please pray for our children’s safety and for the Church to continue working to keep the most vulnerable of her members safe. Second, if you have children in Kindergarten - 8th grade please make a point of attending these classes with your kids this year. You can find more details and RSVP to any of these classes here: http://www.mhtparish.com/know-program-safe-environment Finally, if you have seen positive fruits in your family from this program please talk about it with others. By encouraging other families to attend we can help keep all of our kids safe.
Thank you for your help in creating a parish and community where protecting children is a top priority.