Our award-winning Child Abuse Prevention Program (CAPP) has reached nearly 600,000 elementary school students in New York City since 1986. The program teaches up to 20,000 children every year to recognize, resist, and report abuse and neglect using life-sized puppets during in-school workshops. Over the last 34 years, the program has shown its effectiveness in helping children escape abuse.
This school year will be very different in many ways, but one thing that won’t change is The Foundling’s work to protect some of our City’s most at-risk children. The CAPP program operates on the understanding that school staff are often the first to notice signs of neglect or abuse and report it. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in children being out of school for months, and The Foundling and CAPP want to ensure that children are still safe, despite these challenging times.
Before the effects of COVID-19 came to New York City, the CAPP team performed their Child Safety Workshops all school year long in school libraries or gymnasiums for large groups of third and fourth graders. With the limitations on in-person gatherings and the drastic change to school operations, our team has pivoted to a virtual format for this coming school year, aiming to reach thousands of students even if our Workshops can’t be performed in person. As part of their annual curriculum, students whose parents have opted for in-person learning in New York City will watch a pre-recorded video of the CAPP workshop with their teacher and a school counselor. Staff from The Foundling will be “with” the students virtually on camera– watching alongside them. The team is also developing plans to work with students are attending school completely virtually.
“Stephen,” is one of the CAPP puppets who speaks with students about physical and sexual abuse, and provides children with the tools they need to decipher between safe and unsafe touch. Although he can’t meet with students this year, he did have this message to share as kids begin their remote learning:
“Before each virtual workshop, all participating schools will receive training on how to speak with children who disclose abuse and neglect,” said Marion White, Program Director of CAPP. “The workshop is incredibly important, especially today with many children not attending school in-person—not only does the work give children a prevention education—it also gives children who may have already experienced abuse the chance to get help.”
Click here to learn more about The Foundling’s Child Abuse Prevention Program.