Children learning about inappropriate touching early in life

Published: .
Updated: .

Two Muncie men were recently and arrested with child molestation charges, after an eight-year-old girl came forward after a school program teaching the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touching.

As Eyewitness News found out, those classes are becoming increasingly common in classrooms around the state and even before some children are school age.

"I brought two books for us today," Jamie Rivas, mental health director for Indiana Head Start, tells a class of about a dozen students Wednesday afternoon. "My other book is called Your Body Belongs to You."

There are important lessons each day, but perhaps one of the most important came Wednesday to the students, which range from 3-5 years of age.

"On our body, we have some parts that we never share. Those are our private parts. Those private areas are any areas under the swimsuit," Rivas said.

Before they even enter kindergarten, the children are learning what touch is safe and what isn't.

Even at this young age, there are children who have come forward and say they have been victims.

"It is heartbreaking, but it's a moment in which you know you've connected with a child and you have the ability can walk that child and that family through the steps of to recovery," Rivas said.

Family dynamics are also changing, which is another reason behind the early push.

"We are finding that a lot of children are being raised by grandparents, foster parents, and maybe even uncles and aunts," said Debora Benberry, assistant head start director for center operations at Indiana Head Start.

On top of that, the number of abused children is on the rise.

"Statistics show us that one-in-five girls and one-in-20 boys do end up getting molested over their lifetime," Rivas said.

The hope is that by teaching this lesson early, that number will go down and that children will know to say no when and if someone touches them inappropriately.

For more information on how to talk to children about abuse, including how to report a crime, click here.