What Protective Behaviours taught my 4-year old daughter

So my daughter and I are in a taxi to school and work this morning. Halfway through our journey, the taxi stops and a man gets in. He sits next to us. My daughter generally has no fear of people, she doesn’t even have one shy bone in her body, so she is busy singing ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’. The man turns and looks at her, then he compliments her. I say thank you but he doesn’t stop there. He then tries to touch her arm and she pulls back. He asks her what is wrong and she doesn’t respond, just shrinks back. The look in her face isn’t even fear, she simply doesn’t want the man touching her. While I watch he then takes out a sweet and hands it to her and without even looking at me, she shakes her head and shrinks further away from him, says NO and finally I step in. This made me think of this Protective Behaviours Programme we have at work.

Basically, Protective Behaviours (PB) is a practical, empowering, personal safety programme for people of all ages and walks of life, which also focuses on social and emotional skills.  It is a process that encourages and develops self-confidence alongside skills that help us avoid being victimised.  This is achieved by recognising our personal concept of safety, trusting our intuitive feelings (early warning signs) that tell us when we are feeling unsafe and developing strategies for self-protection.  The Protective Behaviours process links safety with fun and excitement and an adventurous approach to life.

Protective Behaviours is based on Two Themes, three Core Concepts and Seven Strategies.

The first theme ‘We all have the right to feel safe at all times’ incorporates the concepts of ‘Rights and Responsibilities’, ‘Safety’ and ‘Early Warning Signs’.  The second theme ‘We can talk with someone about anything, no matter what it is’ develops the concept of personal ‘Networks’ of support.

The PB process can increase our self-confidence and empower us to enhance our own thinking and problem solving skills.  In turn this can increase our ability to take protective action on our own behalf, and seek the support of others when needed, to help us feel safe again.  When we are feeling safe we are more likely to feel confident, strong and empowered, engage in adventures and live life to the full within a framework of safety.

I have done this workshop and been teaching my daughter at home. I saw the fruits of it this morning. My 4-year old daughter stood up for herself without even asking me for help. What she experienced were ‘Early Warning Signs’ and she responded appropriately to them. I made sure to tell her that she had done a great job afterwards.

I can’t wait for her to go through the programme properly so her confidence can be built even more and she can be empowered to stand up for herself and to clearly recognise when she is not feeling safe. Perpetrators are afraid of children who can stand up for themselves, they stay away from them and that is what we all want for our children. I would encourage anyone and everyone to contact our offices and find out how you, your family, your church, your schools and whichever community you are a part of, can get this training done by our trained Protective Behaviours Practitioners.


Written by: A GCF employee who just recently attended our Protective Behaviours Workshop which GCF provides for all its employees.

1 Comment

  1. Nelly Khuzwayo on November 20, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    I love the initiative of this program and would be happy to see it flourish and spread widely across all communities!

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