Anti-victimization education and training

WHO Background

Recognizing a Need
In 1980, a small group of volunteers regularly met at the Mental Health America of Greater Dallas as part of the Child Abuse Committee. Through these meetings the volunteers recognized a need for an educational program that addressed the victimization of children. Soon the committee began applying for grants that would permit the establishment and development of the WHO (We Help Ourselves) Program.

Early Success
After being awarded a grant by the Texas Department of Human Resources in June 1981, Joanne Henderson Martens wrote the curriculum for WHO. Originally developed for Dallas County, the program consisted of three age-appropriate programs for children and teenagers in kindergarten through 12th grade. In its first year, WHO was presented to 11,000 children in 16 area school districts. The second year found WHO expanding its reach to 19,000 children through newly produced program videos.

Growing and Changing
Updated curricula and new videos in 1995 meant more expansion for the WHO Program, including new material for pre-school children and high school students. WHO is currently used by more than 126 public and private organizations in Texas and 50 school districts in 3 other states.


The ideal setting for a presentation of the WHO Program is a contained classroom with a group or class size of 25-30 students. Elementary presentations typically last 45 minutes, while secondary presentations may fill a class period. Each WHO module relies on videotape and a trained facilitator to present the program, which emphasizes an environment that “allows learning” as opposed to “teaching.” After the videotape is shown, facilitators engage the class in discussion to reinforce new ideas, discover other situations and examine alternatives.

Presenters must undergo two full-day training sessions where they learn to administer the WHO Program. Each WHO module relies on videos and a trained representative such as school counselors, to present the program. Presenters are equipped with guidelines, follow-up questions and support materials that help engage students and encourage participation. The preschool and kindergarten through 2nd grade presentations utilize five puppets to help demonstrate situations.


Kindergarten – 2nd Grade

3rd – 4th Grades
Stranger Danger/Child Molestation
Harassment/Bullies/Emotional Abuse

Physical Abuse 
Sexual Abuse

3rd – 4th Grade MODULE 2

Internet Safety


Substance Abuse

5th – 6th Grades
Physical and Emotional Abuse/Bullies
Self Care
Peer Pressure
Harassment/Sexual Abuse

5th – 6th Grades Violence Prevention


Verbal Abuse


Physical Fighting

7th – 9th Grades
Peer Pressure
Sexual Harassment
Stranger Harassment/Male Victim
Physical and Emotional Abuse
Sexual Abuse
Running Away


7th – 9th Grades

Peer Pressure

Sexual Harassment

Stranger Harassment/Male Victim

Physical and Emotional Abuse

Sexual Abuse

Running Away

10th – 12th Grades
Societal and Peer Pressure
Pre-marital Battering
Sexual Harassment/Male Victim
Date Rape
Eating Disorders


Meet the Puppets

WHO PuppetsThe WHO (We Help Ourselves) Program enlists the help of five furry friends to teach kindergarten through 2nd graders how to be safe in dangerous or scary situations.

Heidi Owl
Meet Heidi Owl, a Snowy Owl with a great attitude and a lot of knowledge about personal safety. She knows the WHO Rules about what to do and who to talk to in certain dangerous or harmful situations.

Miss Kitty
Miss Kitty is a “scaredy cat.” She is afraid of everything and everyone because she has not learned or practiced the rules.

Kimberly Koala
Kimberly Koala is a lovable know-it-all. When confronted with a problem, she doesn’t always think about her options – she thinks she already knows the answer!

Larry Lion
Larry Lion portrays a “lionly” image of confidence, but inside he feels silly, even babyish, to express his feelings when he is hurt.

Billy Brown Bear
Most of Billy Brown Bear’s time is spent hibernating, so sometimes he’s a little slow. But once he wakes up, he’s a conscientious learner who’s anxious to find out how to deal with troubling situations.

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