Book Review: A book that will help parents to talk to kids about child sexual abuse.
A short overview of this book
Some Secrets Should Never be Kept by Jayneen Sanders is a book that will allow parents to have that important conversation about child sexual abuse.
An overview of the book
As a parent, there are many risks that we need to prepare our kids for. Just as we teach them road safety so that they won’t get hit by a car as they cross the road, we need to teach them protective behaviours so as to protect them from inappropriate touch ie sexual abuse.
But talking to our kids about road safety is much easier than talking about sexual abuse. When we talk to our kids about sexual abuse, we are having to tell them that sometimes adults choose to hurt children and to do stuff with them isn’t for kids. And this is a hard thing to do as we are having to teach our kids that the world isn’t always a good place, without taking away their innocence. Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept makes this hard conversation much easier.
Sexual abuse is a real problem
Talking about sexual abuse is a difficult subject to talk about amongst ourselves, let alone with your child. But the reality is, is that the risk of sexual abuse to children is high. The figures vary, but it is thought that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 11 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18.
The problem though, is how do you talk about sexual abuse with your child? Without scaring them (or yourself)?
The answer is – books.
About the book
Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept was written to ensure that kids would know what to do if they are ever touched inappropriately ie to tell a trusted adult and to keep on telling until they are believed.
To do this, it tells the story of a little boy who was touched inappropriately and the steps he went through in telling his mother about what happened. This is beautifully presented in a way that is not frightening or confronting for children.
But first, why do we need to talk about sexual abuse with kids?
Because sexual abuse happens and the people doing it are very good at keeping it quiet. It doesn’t matter how ‘nice’ your family and friends are, the reality is that you just can’t supervise your kids 24 hours a day.
By pretending that it won’t happen to your kids, you are actually putting your kids at risk by increasing their vulnerability.
How can you expect to keep kids safe from something that they don’t know about or that you only make vague references to? They just become confused or scared of people.
So your kids need to know what you are actually protecting them from BUT you need to talk about it in a way that makes sense to them and doesn’t frighten them. So it is important that you do talk about sexual abuse with your kids.
Why use a book?
There are some good reasons as to why you may want to use a book to talk about sexual abuse. Books take the pressure off from you having to remember what exactly you need to say and how to say it!
I’ll give you an example. I know nothing about how motors and things work, so if my son asks me a question about motors, I wouldn’t have a clue. Anyway, we read this book last night that was all about how motors work. As we read the book, the words explained age-appropriately how motors worked – it even had little flaps that described each step. Somehow, even though I knew nothing about the topic, I had taught him the basics of how motors work. That is the magic of books – you don’t have to remember what to say!
Books are a fantastic resource for when you want to talk to kids about difficult topics. They provide you with the content plus the age-appropriate language that kids are more likely to understand (just like in the motor book).
Plus, they give you a discrete way to slip in some education, without your kids even noticing, in an everyday way.
When should I start reading this book?
Kids are more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know (a good person) than a stranger (a bad person).
To kids, this book is about the fact that sometimes the people we know (good people) can make bad decisions (do bad things). Kids don’t start to understand this concept, that sometimes good people do bad things until they are about five years of age. Before then there is a real risk that your child will become scared or anxious about the people around them. You can read more about fear and anxiety in kids here, and about the stages of child development here.
So before the age of five, you should already be reading your kids books about the behaviours that will help to protect them from sexual abuse. Things like – the names of their body parts, the fact that they are the boss of their own body, how to say no, secrets, early warning signs, and other things like that.
There are lots of great books out there that will help you to start to talk about sexual abuse.
Try adding a post-it note with questions you might want to ask.
- Make sure you have a look at the book first (before you read it to your child)! That way you will know what to expect. You can find some tips on how to read ‘sex ed’ books here.
- If you want to know what’s actually inside the book first, you can hear the book being read by Debra Byrne, here.
- Look at the Discussion Questions at the back of the book – you can use these to start having conversations about what happens in the book eg what do you think the little boy should do?
- REMEMBER – your child is okay about this content – it is you that will find it difficult because you are telling your child about something that we condemn as a society (ie paedophilia).
- You will find it easier if you are already talking about sex stuff with your kids already. You can find some great books for younger kids here.
- An easy way to remember what question to ask, is to just write the question on a post-it note and place it on the page. That way, you will remember what to discuss, when you arrive at that page.
- You can find some extra tips on reading this book here.
Books like this are important!
It is important that you let your kids know about sexual abuse but to do it in a way that doesn’t scare them. This book, Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept, is the perfect book for the job.
What’s the ideal age for this book?
Some Secrets Should Never be Kept is ideal for children between the ages of 5 – 8 years of age.
Have a look through the book