RLS kindergartners learn ‘good touch,’ ‘bad touch’

Published 8:53 pm Thursday, March 5, 2009

Most kindergartners know that kicking, hitting and slapping are not appropriate ways to touch other people. Yesterday Red Level kindergarten students got an extended lesson in “safe touch.”

Seated cross-legged on the floor with a group of 5- and 6-year-olds, district attorney Greg Gambril and assistant DA Grace Jeter presented a program about personal safety.

“First we talked to them about who we are and what we do,” Jeter said. “I told them that I have a great job because I get to help kids. Then we asked them if they knew the difference between good touch and bad touch.”

Jeter said the youngsters were full of examples, like kicking, hitting and slapping vs. hugs and handshakes.

“Then we talked about what to do if someone touches your privates,” she said. “We talked about who they should tell if that happens to them. We told them that it’s important to never go anywhere with a stranger, even if that stranger says, ‘Your momma asked me to pick you up,’ or ‘I’ve got a puppy.’”

“Then we held our arms away from our bodies and talked about that a stranger should get no closer to you than this,” she said.

Jeter, whose oldest child is a kindergarten student, routinely prosecutes perpetrators of sex crimes against children. Kindergarten is not too young to talk about this sometimes-uncomfortable topic, she said.

“Honestly, with what we’re seeing, 3 and 4 is not too young,” she said. “Children need to hear this message and they need to hear that if it happens, it’s not their fault and they’re not going to be in trouble if they tell.”

Otherwise, the abuse can go on and on before children report it, she said.

“I prosecuted a man who had been having sex with his 6-year-old grandchild,” Jeter said. “We think it had been going on for two years. The child knew that it hurt, and that she didn’t like it, but no one had ever told her that it wasn’t right, so she just accepted it.”

Jeter said she’d be happy to provide the program for other groups of children. She can be reached in the DA’s office at 222-2513.