What he learned as a detective with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department haunted him.
Terry Hall would see suspects convicted of child molesting and other crimes against children get what he considered a light sentence and would hear the stories of what they had done to children.
He decided that prevention could be the key to protecting children from becoming victims.
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For decades he has traveled around the state giving programs to teach students how to stay safe and in control of their bodies.
He has been at nearly every school district in the county and will be at Greenwood schools this week giving his unique program to every student from elementary school to high school.
One of the keys to his program’s success is teaching children that the crimes against them are not their fault and teaching them the proper names for body parts, Hall said.
“I tell them how important it is to tell and that they have done nothing wrong,” he said.
Lessons and presentations are catered toward grade levels in a presentation that is modeled after a national curriculum.
That curriculum was good, he said, but in some cases children were told that people shouldn’t touch any area that is covered by a bathing suit.
Students could them misconstrue that information and think that they were being abused if someone touched them on the shoulder or patted their back, he said.
He decided to develop his own program that goes more in depth and changes slightly each year to keep up with maturing students and technological advances.
Hall covers what each grade level needs to know to stay safe.
For example, kindergartners and first-graders learn the basics of good touch, bad touch. Older elementary-aged students learn about the dangers of social media and bullying. Middle school and high school students learn about the dangers of sexting and sexual bullying, and high school students have an extensive question-and-answer session during their program.
The high school program was not initially developed. At first, Hall assumed that older teenagers would know if they were being abused and would know how to tell someone. Then he heard about teenagers saying they were abused a decade earlier and hadn’t told anyone for years. Some were still being abused and hadn’t told anyone. Hall then developed the high school program.
“(Abuse) just doesn’t stop. It doesn’t know an age barrier,” he said.
The key to the younger students’ program is to teach them the biologically correct term for their genitals, Hall said. If children know the proper names and what is a good and bad touch, then they would be more likely to tell a parent when they have been abused, he said.
“It’s a topic no one wants to talk about much,” he added.
Hall makes sure that everyone knows what his program will cover. Parents are invited to a program of their own. He talks about what he will tell their children and gives them warnings.
Hall cites the statistic that people who abuse children are likely someone close to them and has had previous positive interactions with the child.
Most child molesters are patient and will develop relationships with parents and children for eight months or more before actually abusing the child, Hall tells parents.
In the hours and days after the program, counselors at each school he visits are ready to help any children who come forward, which can be a common occurrence, Hall said.
The in-depth nature of Hall’s program is why educators bring him to the school year after year, said Kenna Frink, student services adviser at Southwest Elementary School.
Schools can teach fire safety, weather safety and tornado safety, Frink said, but Hall helps the schools fill the gap for other types of safety.
“We are empowering our students to look out for themselves,” she said.
What: Parent Body Safety meeting
When: 6:30 p.m. today
Where: Northeast Elementary School, 99 Crestview Drive, Greenwood