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Teaching the at-risk male sexual abuse victim

It is estimated that one out of six male youth offenders have been sexually molested. Teachers at male juvenile facilities have a classroom with unique dynamics particular to their students. Out of this high concentration of students who have either suffered sexual abuse, or live in an environment in which is it is understood to be a high possibility, a unique curriculum is required to meet student needs.

An across the curriculum approach is necessary, combining history and literature. The historical aspect allows the student to expand their personal view of reality. To see that people in other periods of history also suffered from problems similar to their own. Often, the student has a limited understanding of any period other than the one they have personally experienced, or they have a highly inaccurate view. Combining history with literature through historical fiction allows the student to augment emotional connections to the story characters as they gain empathy for people outside of their frame of reference.

Added to this is a level of personal trauma that the story characters experience that mirrors the reader's own. The male youth coming out of a criminal background can relate both emotionally and intellectually to the story character's crisis.

That is the objective for developing this curriculum. It is designed for an all-male audience with a high percentage of youth who have suffered sexual and physical abuse.

To achieve this goal a historical fiction novel, Cover Fire, set in World War II is used. The GI cast finds themselves desperate to save the life of their sergeant who has suffered abuse at the hand of the Nazis. In the process of saving their sergeant, the members of the rescue squad find themselves needing rescue. Suffering under the pressure of saving the sergeant, each squad member must come to terms with emotional issues he had hidden from himself. The stakes are high. Not only life but also sanity is at stake.

The accompanying study guide deals with four reoccurring themes: feelings of isolation and guilt, acceptance of help, reestablishing trust, and healing as an actual event. The student using the study guide enters further into the world of the story through role-playing. They help decide on the best course of action to emerge triumphant from the character's ordeal. This, in turn allows the student to project their own trauma onto the character and work through it--thus lessening their isolation from the community. At the end of the study guide, the student is invited to join the squad in a post war family outing. There the student is reintroduced into society as a whole individual.

Accompanying this study guide and novel is a one-act play, in which the men in the squad express why they care for their injured sergeant enough to risk their lives in his recovery.

The author, K. G. Booth is a 51 year old secondary teacher of social studies with 29 years experience, 16 of those years teaching male youth offenders. The curriculum has been developed for classroom and counsel use. Cover Fire and the Accompanying Guide is available online at ebooksonthe.net under fiction.

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