High Five!

High Five! was developed in 2008 after a local school called the CAC requesting a safety program for elementary school students. The growing awareness of the prevalence of child abuse in the community made it possible to bring together a team of people, including school staff, community members and CAC personnel. Together they worked to develop High Five! incorporating the latest research in child abuse prevention with the needs of the community, schools and parents. After an initial pilot phase, High Five! was launched, and has reached nearly 60,000 students in over 70 schools throughout Onondaga County.

High Five!* is a skills–based safety program created by McMahon Ryan Child Advocacy Center. It is a school–based child abuse prevention curriculum that emphasizes collaboration with the school community, families and the CAC.

High Five! was designed to give Kindergarten, first and second grade students the skills to stay safe when they find themselves in unsafe situations. The goal of High Five! is to help prevent child abuse and child sexual abuse by promoting the importance of identifying feelings, responding to those feelings and telling a trusted adult. Students will learn important safety rules for general situations as well as unsafe touch and boundary violations. High Five! is composed of four modules. Each Module is 25 minutes long and is designed specifically to take into account a young child’s attention span as well as the time restraints on educators in the classroom. 

*High Five! meets Erin’s Law Mandate in New York State requiring child abuse prevention education in grades K-8 in all public schools.

For more information or to purchase High Five! please contact us

High Five! Program Features and Benefits:

High Five! Program Features

  • Meets NYS Social Emotional Learning Standards
  • Meets NYS Health Standards
  • Aligned with National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Curriculum Standards
  • Adaptations for students with Special Needs and English Language Learners
  • Meets Erin’s Law mandates
  • Based in current research and evidence
  • Easy implementation with scripted facilitator manual
  • Uses literature to reinforce concepts
  • Use of storyboards for role playing and participant interaction
  • Take home reinforcement materials for children, parents, and caregivers

High Five! Program Benefits

  • Age/developmentally appropriate
  • Short time frame (4 Lessons, 25 minutes each)
  • No cost to participants
  • Provides communication and support for teachers and school staff
  • Provides communication and support for parents and caregivers
  • Develops and supports open communication between children and safe adults
  • Engages schools, families and communities to keep children safe
  • Fun and engaging for students and teachers

High Five! Program Topics

Module 1:

  • Identifying Feelings
  • Coping with difficult feelings
  • Seeking help from safe adults (Feelings Helpers)

Module 2:

  • Identifying who strangers are
  • Rules to stay safe
  • Who are safe strangers

Module 3:

  • Coping with arguing and verbal altercations
  • Staying safe during physical altercations/violence
  • Safety and emergency planning
  • How to safely seek out help from safe adults

Module 4:

  • Identify the private parts of the body (parts covered by a bathing suit)
  • Rules to keep the whole body safe
  • Safe versus unsafe touches
  • Safe versus unsafe secrets
  • Reducing stigma and seeking help

High Five! K-2 Program Overview and Sample Materials

Program Overview and sample materials available for download here

Watch CNY Central interview our former Director of Outreach and Education Maureen Foran-Mocete on the benefits of the High Five! Program.

For more information or to purchase High Five! please contact us

Program Evaluation

The Outreach and Education Team at McMahon Ryan wishes to thank the Community Foundation of CNY and Syracuse Community Link Project at the Maxwell School for their support in evaluating the High Five! program.

The Outreach and Education Team participated in a Learning Community through the Central New York Community Foundation to assess the effectiveness of the High Five! program.  The graph below shows the knowledge gained for students participating in the program the first time as well as knowledge gained for students participating multiple years in a row. 

The Outreach and Education Team was selected to participate in the Community Link Program at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs to evaluate pre/post test data to assess student knowledge gain the High Five! program.  The results demonstrate increase in knowledge gain for both students enrolled in the program for the first time (nearly 12% increase) as well as for students previously enrolled in the program (more than a 9% increase).


The Outreach and Education Team at McMahon Ryan wishes to thank the students, staff and families within the over 70 schools throughout Onondaga County that have partnered with us to keep the children in our community safe by allowing us to present the High Five! program.

“Our students have truly benefited from incorporating High Five! into our health curriculum.  I appreciate the opportunity to work alongside the phenomenal McMahon Ryan instructors to empower students with self-esteem and safety skills.  Our students light up when the instructors from McMahon Ryan enter the classroom and provide engaging lessons.  It is my hope we continue our partnership with the High Five! program to lay the groundwork for our students and community to prevent child abuse.”

Elementary Teacher

“My students and I have enjoyed having the High Five! program come into our classroom. The students enjoy the engaging lessons and have a better understanding of how to take care of themselves and what it is right and wrong. They love getting to role play scenarios which help to empower their voices and teach them how to deal with real life issues. I look forward to the program every year and hope to continue to see it in my school.”

Elementary Teacher

“The McMahon Ryan Outreach and Education Team has been serving the students at our school for over ten years. During that time, I have been immensely pleased with their professionalism, their flexibility, and above all, their message to our students. Their instruction is always done in a way that gently provides important information to students without being alarming or scary. If an issue emerges, the team always does an outstanding job communicating it to the principal or the counselor. Their program has helped so many students over the years, and I am sure it will continue to do so.”

Elementary School Principal

“I think the High Five! program was great! It opened the door to allow me to speak with my kids about “sexual abuse”. Being a survivor myself, I wanted to make sure my kids were educated about this subject. My son learned that his body is his own and no one is allowed to touch his body in unsafe ways. He learned about talking to a trusted adult and that we don’t keep secrets. These are all important things for a child to know.”


“The High Five! program opened the lines of communication to allow me to continue to educate my children on safety surrounding their bodies. I will often say remember when the High Five! program came and talked about… and then I will go into a lesson about safety or remind them they can always talk to us about anything, or inquire if anyone has ever tried to hurt them.”


“I found High Five! extremely beneficial to our students. I’m impressed at how warm the staff is and how effective and efficient the program is presented given the complexity and nature of the topics discussed. Topics and take home exercises are age-appropriate for all grades. The delivery is astounding and presenters are in tune with students the entire time. When situations arose, requiring myself to become involved, staff informed me immediately to address the issue. The students look forward to High Five! and are eager to participate. I highly encourage and promote the importance of continuing this program at our school.”

School Social Worker