Wednesday, July 27, 2011
A Book To Help Caregivers Talk To Their Child About Sexual Abuse
As our children grow up, there are many issues we need to talk them about: Looking both ways before crossing the street, dangers in the house we need to be careful of, not talking to strangers, appropriate ways to behave and treat others, and sex. But one of the most difficult talks we need to have with our children is talking about appropriate and inappropriate touching. How does one even begin a talk like that? How does a parent approach this uncomfortable but very important discussion? I've come across a wonderful tool.
My Body Belongs To Me is a children's book written by author Jill Starishevsky. In addition to writing this book, she works in the Bronx County District Attorney's office prosecuting cases dealign with child abuse and sex crimes. She understand the major importance of empowering children to understand that their body's are their own and other people are not allowed to touch it.
Beautifully illustrated by Sara Muller, the pictures breathe life into the nineteen powerful sentences that describe how we have certain body parts people can see and some that people can't. And that it isn't okay for people to touch the parts that are 'hidden'. The narrator describes how an uncle's friend inappropriately touches her and how uncomfortable it made her feel. He told her it was just their secret but she was brave enough to tell her parents what had happened. In the end, she shows us how what happened wasn't her fault and that no matter what, it's okay to talk to another adult about these things even if we're threatened not to tell.
Jill offers some fantastic suggstions for opening up the table for discussion and how to gently ease into the talk so the child isn't scared or worried. The book is written for the three to ten year old age range, which is appropriate. The only additional suggestion I could give is to make sure that you ease into the talk at your child's understanding level and his ability to understand.
This is a very important book and I applaud Jill for being brave enough to put it out there for children and families. Children need to learn that their bodies are their own and that it is never okay for another person to touch them in ways that don't feel right or to hurt them. Jill helps caregivers open up the subject in a gentle way.
Check out Jill's Website for more information about the book and links to other important resources.