Correlation of the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® with Catholic Teachings
Written by Robert B. Church, LCSW October, 2003
The Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® Curriculum for Child Abuse/Sexual Abuse Prevention was developed in 1983 by Pam Church, a life-long Catholic. She wrote the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® curriculum for Pre-K through 6th grade children based on her own educational background in child development and learning and memory, as well as her understanding of the social and theological teachings of the Catholic Church.
This paper is a correlation of the principals and content of the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® curriculum with Catholic teachings as set forth in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The goal here is twofold:
1) to demonstrate that Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® can be taught effectively in a Catholic context; and
2) to show that the guiding principles of the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® curriculum are both compatible with and complementary to the instruction found in the Catechism. Please note: a complete cross-reference with the Catholic teachings is beyond the scope and not the intent of this paper.
The Holy Father Pope John Paul II has stated that child sexual abuse is a grave sin and should not be tolerated in the Holy Roman Catholic Church. He expressed his concern about the damage that sexual abuse may do to a child’s faith. The Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® curriculum teaches children the language, knowledge and skills they need to participate in their own safety from sexual abuse, including the following:
1) helping to prevent abuse before it occurs;
2) helping to stop abuse if it is already occurring; and
3) recognizing that IF abused, it is NEVER the child’s fault.
Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® is unique in that the curriculum, when taught in the Catholic context, emphasizes that the child’s spiritual integrity remains intact, even if their body is physically violated. The shame felt by victims of child sexual abuse is often the most damaging result of the abuse.
The sin and social evil of child sexual abuse is epidemic. 1
Many adults choose to avoid facing the uncomfortable challenge this evil presents. They would rather deny the existence of sexual abuse, or minimize its effect. However, Catholics are charged with a social and moral responsibility to combat this evil. 1Ths.4:3
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Part 3, Life In Christ, V- The Proliferation of Sin, 1865 warns us that “sin creates a proclivity to sin: it engenders vice by the repetition of the same acts.” Rom. 13:13; Eph.:3 Sin left unchallenged can “corrupt the judgement of good and evil”. 1867 states “some sins cry out to heaven”, and 1868 points out that we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them by “protecting evil doers”.
In Part 3, Chapter 2, The Human Community Articles 1 and 2, Catholics are urged to participate in social life and to address social problems. Catholics are urged to demonstrate our love for neighbors by protecting individuals and groups who are exploited, like children who suffer sexual abuse. Exod.22:22
2525 says that “Christian purity requires a purification of the social climate”. Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® prevention/education curriculum for children is Christian mission in action: its goal is to protect and defend children who, without our help, cannot protect themselves (they will be alone with a sexual abuse offender -- their parents will not be there to protect them). Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® also involves the community in the care and protection of children. We do this through training key adults to teach Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® to children, to empower the children with prevention /education skills to avoid abuse, and also through training adults in how they can respond in a healthy, helpful way to children who have been abused. Finally, there are materials to include parents in their own children's sexual abuse prevention/education. These continue to be developed and (if funding can be identified) will be translated into Spanish.
1.) Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® is based on this first principle: each child is special. Every child of every race, creed and social condition is special and unique. Every child deserves to be safe from abuse. Every child deserves to learn that others care about their safety.
Correlation: 225 – Everyone is made in the image and likeness of God. 294 – God made us to be sons through Jesus Christ. Every child’s life is to reflect and manifest the glory of the creator, God.
2) The second principle of Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® is: It’s My Body! My body is a gift of God, and no one has a right to harm it in any way. Everyone else's body is also a gift of God and I have no right to harm others.
Correlation: 355 – Our bodies are God’s creation, the union of the spiritual and material world. “The human body shares in the dignity of the image of God…it is the human person that is intended to become, in the body of Christ, a Temple of the Holy Spirit.”
3) The third principle of Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® includes the definition of sexual abuse: when someone forces or tricks a child to touch the child’s private body parts, or when someone forces a child or tricks a child into touching the other person’s private body parts. No one (including adults or other children) has the right to hurt a child through sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is a sin, and it is evil. Sexual abuse is also a crime – against laws of the community as well as against moral and ethical laws
Correlation: Sexual abuse, or “the use of a child for sexual gratification,” is a sin. It is an evil that many in society choose to ignore and deny because it frightens them, or because they falsely believe it cannot affect them. This denial of the problem of sexual abuse is the means by which this evil flourishes. 386 – “ Sin is present in human history. Any attempt to ignore it or give this dark reality other names would be futile.” Lev.20:2-4
Children have a special place in the heart of Jesus. He included them in his ministry, teaching them. They are deserving of special protection. Matt. 19:13-14; Matt.21:15-16; Mark 10:13-14; Mark 10:16.
4.) The practical application of the first three principles of Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® is the 5 Body Safety Rules taught to children in the curriculum lessons. These rules are taught to help the children avoid an incident of abuse, and for the children to use when seeking the aid of a trusted adult, such as a parent, teacher, priest, etc. Because they are all special and all deserve to be safe, children who hear Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® are taught, in a non-threatening, nurturing manner, what sexual abuse is, how to avoid it and how to get help if it does occur. Children are taught that if it does occur, sexual abuse is NEVER the child’s fault. Children are taught that, just as they are special, others are also special and deserve to be safe. Thus, Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® works to prevent both victims and offenders of abuse. Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® inoculates children with information and skills to help protect them against the evil of sexual abuse.
The following is a correlation of the teaching of the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® Body Safety Rules, which help protect children from the evil of sexual abuse, with the Sacrament of Baptism, which protects against the evil of original sin.
Children are taught the 5 Body Safety Rules:
1)It’s MY Body! I am special, unique, and I matter in thisI deserve to be safe, and to know all the safety rules!
2)The Uh-Oh Feeling (warning feeling about sexual abuse, intuition or our conscience) – if I feel like something’s wrong, I’m right! And sometimes, I need to ask questions of someone I trust! (Sometimes, I don’t know if a situation is sexual abuse, and I have the right to find out!)
3)I have the right to SAY NO! And Get Away! (from an abusive situation)
4)I have the right to Tell An Adult I trust if I have been abused, or am having a problem.
5)It is NEVER My Fault!
Correlation: Baptism 1213 – Catholics by virtue of their baptism have a duty to share in the mission of Christ and His Church. The mission of Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® is to help protect the child’s body and spirit from the damage (or potential damage) done by sexual abuse.
As Catholics, we perform the Sacrament of Baptism for infants and children. We do this because we know that faith can only grow to maturity when nurtured by a caring community. Children must learn that the significant adults in their life and community care about their safety and will help protect them from abuse (any type of abuse). As a Catholic community, we must protect the integrity of the child’s body and soul.
Baptism 1216 – Baptism “enlightens the person baptized.” The Church as mother and teacher, teaches that in Baptism we are reborn a new creation. To teach Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® in a Catholic context enlightens children by teaching them that their body is a special gift given to them by God, and they must preserve (respect) this gift, and preserve (respect) the body of others as God’s gift as well.
Baptism 1216 – By virtue of our baptism, the stain of original sin is removed and we are clothed with a new garment, and “our shame is washed away”. In the Catholic context, Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® recognizes that through original sin, the evil of sexual abuse can harm children. Catholic children are taught that the garment of their baptism protects them from the shame (guilty feelings) associated with sexual abuse. Their bodies may be damaged, but their spiritual garment is unstained because of their baptism. Thus, the theology of Baptism can be used to reinforce the Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® Body Safety Rule that it is NEVER the child’s fault if they are abused. Children must have the knowledge to protect their body. Hosea 4:6; Deut. 6:7
This brief paper is meant to demonstrate that Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® Child Abuse/Sexual Abuse Prevention/Education Curriculum for Children is not only compatible with Catholic teachings, but can also be enhanced and enriched when taught within a Catholic context. I would encourage Catholic educators to use Good-Touch/Bad-Touch® Child Abuse/Sexual Abuse Prevention /Education Curriculum with the Pre-K through 6th Grade children in their schools and religious education settings to foster the spiritual and emotional benefit of all of the children in their care.
1 The prevalence of sexual abuse is hard to establish with perfect accuracy for a number of reasons: the definition of abuse, the sample used for the different studies, the questions asked in a particular study, method of questions delivered, definition of childhood, and sampling error (example a quote of 95% confidence interval reflects an error of 5%).
However, in Childhood Sexual Abuse An Evidence Based Perspective by Drs. David M. Fergusson and Paul E. Mullen, published in 1999 by Sage Publications, Inc., 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, California 91320, the following is quoted with regards to a survey of 47 research pieces conducted between 1990 and 1997.
“...the estimated prevalence of CSA (child sexual abuse) varies with the stringency of the definition used. When we use definitions that include noncontact abuse, then 8% to 62.1% of females and 3% to 29% of males are classified as abused. On the other hand, by applying a stringent criterion requiring penetration of intercourse, we find that 1.3% to 28.7% of females and 1.1% to 14.1% of males are classified as abused. Estimates of the prevalence of abuse involving physical contact lie between these extremes...using the criterion of any CSA, including noncontact abuse, prevalence estimates range from as low as 8% to as high as 62.1% for females, with the majority (80%) falling in the range of 15% to 33%.”