I know this is not a very comfortable topic to think about, or talk about, but I believe it is a very important one we cannot afford to ignore: protecting children against sexual abuse.
When my sons were getting closer to an age when they would be visiting other children’s homes and spending time without me (or my husband), I realized that I really wanted them to know what to do if something happened that made them feel uncomfortable. I had no idea how to prepare them for this, however. I ended up looking on Amazon and found quite a few books that taught about body safety, but one in particular stood out – because of its reviews and also because I liked that it was in story format (versus a concept book).
So I ordered the book, called Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept. After it arrived, my husband and I read it over after the kids were in bed. We were both very impressed with the way the story was sensitively presented and the discussion guide in the book which offered parents or teachers key concepts to talk about with children after reading. We were both thankful to have such a useful resource for teaching our children about body safety and open communication should anything happen… especially because we really did not know how to bring up the subject otherwise.
The next day we read the book with my sons – who were four and two at the first time of reading – and they asked some very thoughtful questions. Over the last few months, the story has inspired more important discussions about what to do if someone touches you in a way you don’t like.
Very briefly, Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept is a story about Sir Alfred who spends time with his mother’s employer, who is very respected. The employer touches Sir Alfred in a way that makes him feel uncomfortable, and tells Sir Alfred that he must keep the secret or his mother will lose her job. In the end, Sir Alfred decides to tell his mother and the employer is banished from the kingdom.
The story is not so vivid that it scares children, and it is not explicit either. However it has enough details and such a well thought-out storyline that it is very memorable and thought-provoking. Our family has felt more empowered to address the issue of sexual abuse through having this resource, and so I wanted to share it with my readers in case you would like some help tackling this difficult subject as well.
The author of the book, Jayneen Sanders, has a very inspiring story – and I am grateful that she is sharing some more background to the book with us today.
Chelsea: Can you please share what inspired you to write this book?
Jay: I had always taught my daughters body safety from a young age and assumed other parents did the same. However, when I was on my children’s school council, I asked why we weren’t teaching body safety at school. I never received a satisfactory answer. So I decided literally one night after a meeting to use my skills as an author and a teacher to write a children’s book that would help to achieve what the school was not willing to instigate.
Chelsea: How did you decide on the storyline and why did you feel this choice was most effective?
Jay: Story is a very powerful medium to impart a difficult message. Children learn so much through fables and fairytales without feeling threatened. A story with a powerful message can stay with us long after the reading. I wanted a story that would be timeless and never date; hence my decision to write it as a fable. When I sat down to write, the first sentence just came to me and our brave little Sir Alfred was born.
Chelsea: What do you hope children will learn from reading the story?
Jay: They will learn four key concepts: (1) their body is their body and no-one has the right to touch it, (2) they must never ever keep secrets that make them feel bad and uncomfortable, (3) if they are touched inappropriately they must tell a trusted adult and keep on telling until they are believed and (4) they are never ever to blame. We want kids to speak up and be assertive — especially in relation to their own bodies.
Chelsea: How can parents and teachers extend the lesson?
Jay: The book has an informative ‘Note to the Reader’ which covers basic body safety skills. It also has ‘Discussion Questions’ to guide parents through the key points children need to retain. My blogs on our website are informative and written to provide as much assistance as possible to parents. We have an empowering ‘Body Safety Song’ also and our Facebook page links to useful information from other sources. The Teaching Pack was written to help teachers implement body safety into their classrooms but it is equally as useful for parents.
Chelsea: If you could tell parents to do one thing to help them protect their children from sexual abuse, what would it be?
Jay: Educate your child in body safety from as young as 2.5 years and don’t let YOUR fear of the topic put your child at risk. Teaching body safety is quite simple and the key messages are age-appropriate. With 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys sexually abused before 18 and with 95% knowing their perpetrator, sexual abuse does occur. However, a child who has been taught body safety is less likely to be targeted. Child sex abusers rely on children keeping ‘the secret’; an educated child knows to tell and keep on telling until they are believed!
To find out more about the book and why it is so important, watch this video:
I want to personally thank Jay on behalf of my family, and so many other families around the world, to dedicating her time, talent, and energy to create Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept and its accompanying resources which are empowering children to protect their bodies and know what to do if someone abuses them.
I strongly feel that Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept is an important resource for families and schools, and I hope you will look into the additional resources that go with it as well.
Go here to visit the Some Secrets website where you can even hear a full book reading (click the video on the homepage). Australian readers can purchase the hard copy of the book plus the Teachers Pack there.
If you live outside Australia you can order a soft copy of the book on Amazon: Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept (Amazon affiliate link)
This is not a sponsored post but I am very grateful that Jay donated a copy of her book and a Teaching Pack to my son’s school.
Kate Laughing Kids Learn
Thank you for sharing this Chelsea and Jay for writing this book. As a parent I think this is such an important subject and one that we need to feel confident talking about with our children. This book looks really great and I hope to get a copy.
Chelsea Lee Smith
Thanks so much Kate and I totally agree. Like Jay says on her website – we teach water safety, we teach road safety, why not body safety? It’s just a matter of life and something to be wary of.
I have been struggling with how to talk to my 3 yr old about this without saying to much or to little. My friends daughter was a victim and they didn’t find out until it was too late…the sensitivity in which to approach this topic is important and parents and children should be more educated. Imagine how many children could be saved if they felt that school was a safe place to tell!
Chelsea Lee Smith
Yes Amenda we struggled with how to bring it up without scaring the kids… that is why I really loved this book. It is very clear that what is happening is uncomfortable and wrong, but is not so explicit that it would give the kids a specific fear. I really do wish every school would use this book and the teacher resources! I am so very sorry about your friend. I think this happens a lot more often than we want to acknowledge.
Thank you so much for this post. This is an issue I am afraid of myself – as a survivor of date rape I am always challenged by the issue of wanting to educate my girls yet not make them fearful. I want them to be smart and aware and trust their instincts but also want them to go forward in life still trusting people (a fine balance exists really). They are almost 9 and 10 1/2 and I appreciate the 4 points shared by the author. Thanks
Chelsea Lee Smith
Thanks for your comment Deb and I totally agree – there is such a delicate and tricky balance of trust and caution. There are some other tips on the author’s website which may be useful also. 🙂
Thank you so much for this! I have five and two year old boys and we talk a lot about not letting anyone touch them and always yell always tell and with the five year old talk about what to do in different situations but it would be nice to have a fairy tale like book to read to them. I plan on ordering this book from Barnes and Noble promptly