With the Kids

Talking to Your Kids About Abuse

I was recently sent a children’s book to review entitled, My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky. It’s a heavy topic, but I think this book helps give parents a platform to start a discussion about the important issue of abuse.

The author is Jill Starishevsky, a New York City child abuse and sex crimes prosecutor. She has seen many cases where the children never told anyone what happened and suffered in silence. So she decided that there needed to be a better way to introduce this into families, helping parents and children form communication of trust. This is where her book comes in. It’s designed to start a conversation with your children about abuse, in an inviting way.

I was able to read this to my 6 and 4 year old children and talk about what “my body belongs to me” means. I told them that no matter what, they could tell me anything they wanted and they would never get in trouble. And I made sure to tell them that if someone does something to them they aren’t comfortable with, to say so, tell me, their teacher, their grandparents, anyone they’d feel comfortable telling.

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I even took this book around to parents in my neighborhood to see what they thought about it. Every single one of them said they’d read it to their children. One mother said that this type of abuse was in her family and that she has already been talking with her daughter about it. She said that this book would be a great way to show kids that it is okay to tell someone.

What do you think? Is this something you’d read to your kids? Are your kids ready to talk about abuse? Are YOU ready to talk about abuse?

26 comments

  1. “Maybe we need a post about what to do if your child has been abused!”
    Call your local Rape Crisis Center. They are trained to deal with child sexual abuse, without tainting the investigation. They can support the family through the investigation, while you talk to the police, through interviews with the child. They know the court system and can help you understand how the process works and why it takes so long to get results. They can also offer counseling for you and your child.

  2. I’ve just had an email from someone who did do everything she should have, but her son still suffered. He did tell her about it eventually, but I’ve realized you can do so much. Hopefully her preparations in talking about this issue helped him tell her sooner than later. My heart goes out to her.

    Maybe we need a post about what to do if your child has been abused!

  3. I would definitely read this to my son. He’s only 2 but I have already started talking to him about our private areas and when it is ok to touch and who (mom, dad, diaper change, dr etc). He gets the concept of private area, so I don’t think it’s too young to start talking to your kids about this in a non scary way.

  4. I am an investigator at my local State’s Attorney’s Office. I work in the Child/Abuse Sex Offense Unit. I have been working her 9 years and my perspective on life and people has really changed. Since working there I have had two girls (now 4 and 6). I talk to them often (without drilling it into them or scaring them) about abuse, knowing who they can trust, strangers and about NOT keeping secrets for ANYONE. It is never too early to talk to your children. I see cases all the time where the child (most of the time now older and sometimes even an adult) were afraid to tell because they thought they did something wrong and would get into trouble. Or even sadder are the children that did not know it was wrong because the abuser was someone they TRUSTED. They didn’t learn until they got older and then it was too late. It is often someone a child trusts and many times a family member.
    I would love to look at this book and possibly even let people I work with look at it for a training tool.
    THanks for talking about this important issue.

  5. Thank you to everyone for sharing your thoughts, especially those who have suffered from this type of abuse. I know it is such an important topic and was happy to share this book, helping to get the conversation going. I really appreciate everyone’s comments!

  6. I think the book is a wonderful way for parent’s to talk their children about sexual abuse. My sister and I were both victims when we were children. I have talked to both of my children, a son and daughter since they we old enough to listen, about what is and is not appropriate. It is so important to talk and to listen.

    @Ruth, it is NEVER to early to introduce this subject to your girls. My abuse began around the age of 3. I remember it vividly.

  7. I’d absolutely read this book to my kids. They need to know that if anything happens that makes them feel uncomfortable—especially if it as at the hands of someone they know, love and trust—they can come to me and I’ll listen.

  8. Just ordered this. Thank you for posting it! I’ve been worried about how to talk to my daughters about something I’m not comfortable with. They are still young (3 and 1) but I feel better already knowing I’ll be able to read them this book and answer their questions when they can ask them!

  9. My daughter’s not ready to have a discussion about anything but when she is I would have no problem reading it to her. It’s no different than reading a book about skin color or two mommies. Books help introduce difficult topics that we as parents need to address.

  10. Really important post, Marie, thank you.

    We’ve talked about private parts and who is allowed to see your body and who is allowed to touch your body. We talk to our kids every few months as a refresher. I think this book would be a great weapon in our defense arsenal.

  11. Thanks for this review – I’ve been wanting to find a book like this.

    My husband’s job involves working with a lot of sexual offenders and victims, and I think most people would be SHOCKED to know how common abuse is. Most of us are in a “bubble” and assume that doesn’t happen that often. I’m excited to take a look at this book.

  12. Statistically, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys has suffered this kind of abuse. I think the uncomfortableness of discussing this is WAY overshadowed by the benefits of informing your kids about it! Besides, by talking about things, you open up lines of communication with your kids!!

  13. I wish my library had the book, I’d love to read it to my three little girls. It’s something we talk occasionally, but I’d love to have a book to share with them!

  14. I too am a victim of molestation from the ages of 12-18. You would think at those ages I would have known what to do & what was wrong, but I was so brainwashed & was never told about these things, it went untold until I was in my 30’s. I have already had talks with my children, ages 9, 7, 6. I will not make the mistake my parents did.

  15. I talk to my kids about there body being theirs and that no one has the rights to touch them any way they don’t want. I tell them about there special parts and we have read “The Swim Suit Lesson” Its another book like this that tells kids everywhere their swim suits touch is an area that an adult should never touch them. I would have no problem reading this to my kids and I will probably pick up a copy to share with them.

  16. I think this is great, it can sometimes be hard to bring up randomly and a book is the best way to get your child listening. I have had this talk with my daughter (age 5) because my mom always made sure I was aware when I was growing up. My daughter knows that Daddy, Mommy, Grandma and Doctors are the only people who have the OK. I definitely want to check this book out though, thank you.

  17. Hello! I am someone who was molested for about 10 years. If someone would have talked to me or asked me even once it would have stopped years before it did. I think that is the #1 reason to talk to your kids. Since my kids have been tiny – I just tell them these are your private parts – nobody should touch or look at them (except your Mom or Dad or Dr. if need be) Then I ask them – has anyone ever touched you or made you feel uncomfortable. I think always being upfront helps. Sometimes you get the harmless answers – at school I was going down the slide and whomever bumped into me. But it is a good opportunity to talk about it.
    If anyone would have talked to me it would have stopped. Thanks for sharring this important message!

  18. thanks for this post and bringing attention to the subject. I HATE that something like this even has to be mentioned, that there are those who would abuse one of the most helpless segments of society.

  19. Thanks for this post! It’s been in the back of my mind, and I’m glad to have a good reference. It’s now on my daughter’s wishlist. If she doesn’t get a copy for xmas, we’ll check the library. Thanks again!!

  20. Thank you for telling us about this book. This is something we have been discussing with our children from time to time and I’m on the look out for new resources.

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