RANCHO MIRAGE — In the next few weeks, 16,000 children in Pennsylvania classrooms will learn how to protect themselves from child abuse from one of the leading authorities on the topic – the world-renown Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center — or perhaps more appropriately, Ms. Barbara.

As part of the lesson, pupils in grades K-6 will watch videos that teach them the “Protect Yourself Rules.” In about 13 months, the videos have already been viewed 10 million times and continue to find new viewers, said John E. Thoresen, director and executive officer of the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center.

The nonprofit Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center Foundation in conjunction with Wonder Media has developed a national campaign on a child abuse awareness and prevention.

Ms. Barbara Tells Kids How to Protect Themselves

John Thoresen

“There can’t be Barbara Sinatra Children’s centers in every city in the United States, or in the world, but it’s important to us, and it was important to the founders, Barbara and Frank Sinatra, that we educate and help the prevention of child abuse,” Thoresen told Uken Report. “So, we have a national “Protect Yourself Rules” program that is distributed to teachers, after school providers, parents, church groups, and others. It contains various animated videos and children’s workbooks and teachers’ syllabuses and that’s distributed around the world free of charge. It’s just an amazing resource for school counselors and people like that, that are trying to teach children how to protect themselves.”

In April 2017 during Child Abuse Prevention Month, the videos were shown to 2 million children, Thoresen said. “We’ve gotten notes from kids that saw the videos that decided to report abuse and it’s healed some kids.”

“That is just one of the reasons the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center matters, Thoresen said.

 It is an especially poignant and powerful statement given that March has been designated Make March Matter.

Ms. Barbara Tells Kids How to Protect ThemselvesFor the second consecutive year, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) has partnered with the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center (BSCC) in conjunction with CHLA’s Make March Matter™ fundraising campaign. The goal is to raise at least $250,000 during the month of March in the Coachella Valley in support of services for children and families at CHLA and BSCC. Both organizations focus on the needs of children suffering the effects of abuse and neglect and those who are at risk of being abused.

“We know awareness helps,” Thoresen said.

 The objective of the “Protect Yourself Rules” program is to educate children about what to do when confronted with abusive behavior such as safe and unsafe touches and other physical and emotional abuse. Every video in the series emphasizes the importance of going to a parent or another trusted adult when a child is confronted with an unsafe situation. An “Unsafe Touch” is defined as touching private parts of the body that are covered by a bathing suit. Stranger safety, Internet safety and other situations are also presented.

The videos are separated into two age and grade groups: Kindergarten through third grade and grades 4 through 6. Each video features distinct age-appropriate characters.

The agent of change in the animated lessons is Ms. Barbara, who is the ambassador for abuse awareness and prevention for both age groups. Ms. Barbara tells the audience what she’s going to tell them, teaches the lesson, and then reviews what they have learned. Self-confidence is a key factor in a child’s ability to overcome abuse, and each episode emphasizes and re-enforces the self-worth of the characters, so that they feel comfortable communicating about abusive situations. Children will know that it’s OK to make a scene to protect themselves, and that they can say “NO” to an adult they do not trust.

The program was initiated late in the 2016-17 school year.

Take a peek.