According to the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused by the age of 18 and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused by the age of 18. Mind numbing, right? As a parent of a 1 year old daughter and a 2 year old son, those statistics both alarm me and propel me to want to prepare my children to help prevent abuse.
In effort to later teach them the difference between “appropriate touch” and “inappropriate touch,” we started teaching our children the correct names for body parts from day one. We talk about their “privates” in a very matter-of-fact manner. I also know the names and addresses of registered sex offenders within 3000 feet of our home. We are very particular about who we allow to watch our children in our absence, and aside from grandparents and aunts, the only people to ever access to our children in our absence have passed criminal background checks (through our church’s children’s ministry). It is extremely important to Brian and I, as parents, that we equip our children to be safe and empower them to speak up for themselves.
It was with that in mind that I agreed to review a new book by Stacey Honowitz, called My Privates are Private.
About the author…
Stacey Honowitz is a twenty-two year veteran of the State Attorney’s Office, seventeen years dedicated to the Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit where she is currently serving as a supervisor. She is also a frequent legal commentator who has provided legal analysis for Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, Good Morning America, Dateline NBC, CBS News 48 Hours, MSNBC, CNBC, as well as Fox News and Court Television. She has prosecuted several high profile cases in south Florida and is also a guest lecturer who speaks about child sex abuse, the sensitive nature of these cases, the navigation of the criminal justice system and the importance of frank and open communication with children about this important and difficult subject matter. She has provided important information for several years to both parents and children on the issues of child molestation and continues to send the message that the importance of reporting the abuse is the first step in healing.
About the book (per Amazon)…
- Reading level: Ages 9-12
- Paperback: 24 pages
- Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC (December 3, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1608442810
Parents always want to know how to talk to their children about sexual abuse. The importance of "My Privates are Private" is two fold. This book will put both parents and children at ease when dealing with this delicate, almost taboo subject matter. The main character Betsy Boodle allows parents who find themselves having difficulty "breaking the ice" the ability to communicate openly with their child about the importance of reporting abuse. It provides easy to remember limericks which send powerful and important messages, first and foremost the importance of reporting the abuse. This book empowers children and parents who sometimes have a problem finding the "right words" for a frank and open discussion. Children will see that Betsy Boodle is not afraid to speak her mind if she thinks that she was abused. She advocates the many ways that you can report and most importantly she teaches others that they should never be afraid to speak up.
What I thought…
My Privates are Private is written in limerick and is very easy to follow. Betsy Boodle is very straight forward in identifying her private parts and what she will do if someone tries to touch her there. It is easy for a child to identify with Betsy Boodle, and therefore want to be like her if someone tries to touch them. The book emphasizes the importance of reporting inappropriate touch to a trusted adult. It will be useful in our efforts to help our kids stand up for their rights.
What I would change…
I wouldn’t change anything about this particular book. I would, however, recommend that a similar book be written with a younger target audience in mind. Since my kids are younger, I would love to have a book that is specifically written for 1-2 year olds.
How I rate it:
I also had the opportunity to ask the author, Stacey Honowitz, a few questions about how we can protect our children.
Q: At what age should we start teaching our children the difference between "appropriate" and "inappropriate" touch?
A: It is really important for parents to start educating their children at an early age. Parents know the maturity and abilities of their own children, so when you believe that your child will understand private parts and touching you should begin the discussion. There is absolutely NO set age. The focus of the conversations should be the difference between a good touch and a bad touch, as well as what to do if they feel that they have been touched in a bad place. The conversation need not be frightening or intimidating, rather parents could find a nice way to tell their kids that a certain touch might make them feel uncomfortable and they need to not feel funny about telling someone.
Q: What behavior from adults should be a red flag that the persons intentions may not be noble?
A: This quesition is a great one, because alot of parents are excited that another adult takes such an interest in their child. An adult that is constantly monopolizing the child’s time, constantly showering the child with gifts. and developing a special relationshiop with that child would give reason to question and determine if there is an ulterior motive. Also if that person asks to spend time alone with your child or communicates with your child via a computer or phone without your knowledge certainly might raise a red flag. Parents need to really watch for bad behavior that might be masked by pedophilia behavior.
Q: What signs in my children should be a red flag that something is amiss?
A: Some behaviors in small children might be nightmares, bedwetting, a constant attachment to the parent, and a general fear of staying alone with a certain person after they had never had a problem with that person before. I dont like to generalize because some of these behaviors are indicative of other issues but sometimes a delcine of greades in older kids, and a lack of enthusiasm for things warrant a discussion It might not be abuse, but certainly if something doesn’t sit right with you, make sure and ask if they feel uncomfortable about something and want to share it.
Q: What is the most important thing we can do to empower our children and help prevent potential abuse?
A: Education is the most powerful tool for a parent. So many parents find it difficult to address this issue and have a dicussion about this delicate sub
ject matter. So many children are afraid to report abusers, but i think that if they are armed with the important knowledge that it is ok to tell, less ongoing abuse would take place. Knowledge is power, and even though this subject matter is "taboo" for alot of people, it is a necessity in today’s society. I wrote "MY PRIVATES are PRIVATE" for that specific reason, so that children and parents could feel comfortable when discussing sexual abuse, and learn the most important message of all, which is of course, that if you are being abused the most important thing is to make a report. The healing process begins when you stand up for yourself.
Where you can buy it…
What are you doing, or have you done, to make sure your children are safe from sexual predators?
Lady V dZine
A special thanks to Stacey Honowitz, who provided me with a copy of My Privates are Private to facilitate this review and who took time out of her busy court schedule to respond to the questions I had.
FTC Compliant Disclosure: I received the aforementioned book to facilitate this review. All opinions expressed are 100% mine.