As an educator for The Set Me Free Project, we know that the information we are sharing with students can not only resonate with them but can create a positive impact so profound that it completely changes the course of their lives.
Think of it this way, if you are a child and the one person in your life who is supposed to care for you and teach about love and respect is doing the opposite, what kinds of decisions will you make as an adult?
You'll likely continue to choose relationships that mirror what your caretaker provided and find yourself in relationship after relationship that chips away at your self-esteem.
Taking it further, what if that caretaker not only withheld love but also mentally, verbally, and physically abused you? As you can imagine, the outcome could be detrimental.
But what if someone came to you and taught you what it is to have a healthy relationship and what it is to be trustworthy?
From an experience that I had just this week, I can tell you that providing a child with this education can be life-changing and positively impact those around them.
It was early in the morning, and most of the students were still adjusting to the classroom's fluorescent lights, and while present, some still weren't entirely with me yet. After a while, their eyes began to light up one by one as the discussion about what it is to be a trustworthy person began to unfold.
Almost every student was fully engaged, but I could tell that one was processing what I was teaching them. I continued explaining that a trustworthy person can be many things, but it can never be someone who hurts you, even if you love them and live with them.
At that moment, the student who was deeply reflective throughout the discussion stood up and bravely came up to me in front of the entire class, asking, "Can I please talk to you after class?" Looking down into their sweet eyes, I smiled and replied, "You bet."
After class, myself and another employee of The Set Me Free Project sat down with the student and patiently waited for them to share what they needed to say.
The student revealed that they and their siblings were no longer living with their parents but with other family members. While the roof over their head provided shelter, it did not protect them from abuses that they were enduring, including verbal and extreme physical abuse by those supposed to protect them.
From there, we reported the situation to DHHS, and because of the severity, an investigation is currently taking place.
While we at The Set Me Free Project may not know the outcome of this particular case, we are comforted that this child and many others now know how to identify a trustworthy person, positively impacting the rest of their lives.
You, too, should feel comforted because, without your support, an educator like myself would never have the opportunity to step into a classroom, and a child could go on suffering abuses simply because they did not know they deserve better.