My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky
Over the past week there has been tons of media coverage about sexual harassment and sexual assault. Plus, a new survey and a report shows half to 80% of middle school and high school students feel they have been sexually harassed.
That's why for this Weekly Trip to the Library we highly recommend the children's book, My Body Belongs to Meauthored by a New York City child abuse and sex crimes prosecutor Jill Starishevsky. Her book helps make children aware that when it comes to their bodies, there are boundaries. It assures them that it’s okay to tell a parent or teacher if someone touches their “private parts.”
The story is a simple scenario involving a gender neutral child who is inappropriately touched by an uncle’s friend. The powerful message really comes through when the youngster tells on the offender and the parents praise the child’s bravery. The last page shows a proud, smiling child doing a "strong arm" pose. The text assures them that it wasn't their fault and by speaking out the child will continue to grow big and strong. It is a compelling and uplifting message.
The “Suggestions for the Storyteller” section is an important, interactive feature that facilitates the discussion to follow. It will make any caregiver feel more comfortable talking about this important subject, thereby helping to prevent the unthinkable from happening to their child or child in their care.
Studies show that one in three girls and one in six boys will be molested and without educating children as to the importance of disclosing, the abuse can continue and escalate.
Ms. Starishevsky has said, "I prosecuted the case of a nine-year-old girl who had been raped by her stepfather since she was six. She told no one. One day, the girl saw an episode of 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' about children who were physically abused. The episode, 'Tortured Children,' empowered the girl with this simple message: If you are being abused, tell your parents. If you can't tell your parents, go to school and tell your teacher. The girl got the message and the very next day went to school and told her teacher. I prosecuted the case for the District Attorney's office. The defendant was convicted and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence."
The author continues, "I have thought often of that very sweet, very brave nine-year-old girl. It occurred to me that after three painful years, all it took to end her nightmare was a TV program encouraging her to 'tell a teacher.'"
Ms. Starishevsky explains, "I wrote My Body Belongs to Meto continue that message. It endeavors to teach children that they don't have to endure abuse in silence. Parents and educators should use it as a tool to facilitate an open dialogue with youngsters. It is my hope that by educating girls and boys about this taboo subject, My Body Belongs to Mewill prevent them from becoming victims in the first place."
Where to find help:
Darkness to Light®
Darkness to Light's mission is to shift responsibility for preventing child sexual abuse from children to adults by providing information on how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
Love Our Children USA™
Love Our Children USA is the national nonprofit leader in breaking the cycle of violence against children. Since 1999, Love Our Children USA has paved the way in the prevention of all forms of violence and neglect against children, keeping children safe and strengthening families.
National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)
NCMEC is a public-private partnership serving as a national clearinghouse for information on missing children and the prevention of child victimization. NCMEC works in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual assault organization. RAINN created the National Sexual Assault Hotlines, which it operates in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
Stop It Now!®
Stop It Now! offers adults the tools they need to prevent sexual abuse before a child is harmed. They provide support, information and resources that enable individuals and families to keep children safe and create healthier communities. In collaboration with a network of community-based programs, they reach out to adults who are concerned about their own or others’ sexualized behavior toward children.
Stop the Silence: Stop Child Sexual Abuse, Inc.®
Since 1959 Childhelp has been dedicated to the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect. Childhelp's National Child Abuse Hotline operates 24/7/365 with highly trained counselors, and receives 200,000 calls per year from children, parents, concerned adults and professionals. Childhelp's Good-Touch/Bad-Touch prevention program reaches over 90,000 children annually in 42 states and 14 countries.