“mikey & jools keep safe” guidance notes
Preparation for use in Cedar groups
Making it safe
Make sure children know how to communicate to an adult if they feed distressed and need to leave the room. Make sure they know that someone will be available to leave the room with them (it is important to have at least two adults present for this reason).
Make sure you have established the boundaries of confidentiality in the group so children know that they can talk safely about their own experiences and they also know the limits of confidentiality.
Setting the scene
Tell the children a little bit about the characters and what the film is about. Acknowledge that some of the content might be sad or difficult and that it might remind some children about that things that may have happened in their families.
Ensuring children are comfortable
Make sure children are comfortable before viewing the film. It might be an idea to let children choose a comfort aid, such as a soft toy, stress ball or cushion before watching.
After watching the film
Once the film has ended ask children how they are feeling and acknowledge that sometimes children can find it upsetting and difficult and make them feel sad. Ask how it felt watching the film and validate ay feelings children may express. Ask children what they thought happened in the film.
Questions to ask about the film
- What were Mikey and Jools doing?
- Where were their mum and dad? What were they doing?
- How did Mikey and Jools feel?
- What did they do?
- Can you remember what else they thought about doing? Why didn’t they do those things?
- How did they get help?
- What helped them to feel safe?
The ending of the film is deliberately left ‘open’ to allow for children to explore what might happen next. For example, what happened to dad after the police were called? This allows children to talk about their own experiences.
Questions to ask about children’s own experiences
- Did anything in the film remind you of things that happened in your family?
- Can you remember how that felt?
- Would you like to tell us any more about it?
- What helped you to feel safe?
- Did anyone ever try to stop the fight? What other could children do instead
Things to consider when asking questions
Throughout the discussion be careful to validate children’s experiences and feelings. Avoid making them feel guilty if they did try and stop the fight while also stressing that children can get hurt so it’s not always a good idea.
Children may be wary of calling the police and may have had negative experiences of police involvement. While being sensitive to this, this is still a good opportunity to encourage children to see the police as people who can help. It is also a chance to encourage them to think about other people they could go to for help.
Ending the session
Make sure children have some free time at the end of the session to unwind. This could be an art activity or free play or a structured group game. Give children a chance too to say what they liked or didn’t like about the session. (This is part of the Cedar checkout.)
Using Mikey and Jools in different settings
Dealing with disclosures
When discussing the film be aware that this may result in children disclosing either current or historical domestic abuse and be prepared for how you will deal with this. Be aware of children protection procedures and how to report child protection concerns you may have. Also consider how you will respond to both the child disclosing and to the rest of the group. If you are unsure about whether children in the group have experienced domestic abuse then you might frame your questions: “what if…”
Children can get a great deal out of watching the film and any discussion afterwards whether they have experienced domestic abuse or not. There are many children living with domestic abuse that have not come to the attention of the adults working with them, so it is important to always assume that there may be a child or children who could be upset or reminded of difficult memories.
It is important to have done some preliminary work exploring different kinds of hurting. It is also really important that they are aware that the film is about ‘hurting in families.’ Make sure that the film is shown in a supportive environment and within the context of taking about hurting, violence or abuse.
The animation was developed primarily to be used in Cedar groups for 8-11 year olds, boys and girls, during session four; but will also be a useful tool for work with children in a variety of contexts. Please contact the Cedar team if you would like more information on Mikey & Jools.