Keeping your Kid SAFE & EMPOWERED By Melissa Wardy

As parents, our single goal in raising children is to deliver them into adulthood happy, healthy, and thriving. We want to think that our children will bounce through the years of their childhood and adolescence unscathed from harm and hurt.

But the numbers tell us something different: 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday. Over 90% of these children will know their abuser, often times someone they love and trust. The abuser can also be a peer or playmate, this is not exclusive to adults.

These numbers are alarming, but I don’t believe in parenting from a place of fear. Parents need effective, appropriate methods to teach their sons and daughters about how to protect themselves, talk to safe adults, and use their voice when instinct tells them something is wrong.   When it comes to sexual abuse, silence is never the option.

Speaking to your kids and teaching them to speak up is the single best way to keeping our kids safe and empowered.

When Sally and Cherie, authors of “My Body is Special” contacted me:  about reviewing their book, I was going through some Mommy Drama about taking my just-turned five year old girl to her first drop off birthday party at a classmate’s house. There was going to be a bounce house, and the children were invited to be dropped off for a few hours a birthday party fun. We have known the family for about a year or so through school, but we aren’t close with them and when I sat down and thought about it, we don’t really know them. I liked them, but I didn’t know them. There would be older siblings and extended family of the birthday girl at her party, none of whom I knew. I began to worry, so I decided to talk with Amelia a few days before the party to see if she was ready for this. We have taught her from the age of two about her body, her body parts, and personal safety. Time to see if it was
paying off.

I started asking about who she thought would be at the party, if there would be people she didn’t know at the party, and how we use good manners. Then I asked who she would ask for help if she needed assistance in the potty, setting up some ideas of who were the Safe Adults at the party…and she launched into what we call her Vagina Monologues….a forceful recitation (with one hand on hip, the other in the air as her dark little head bobs side to side) as she states her list of who can and cannot touch her privates, she doesn’t touch or look at other people’s privates, and grown ups don’t tell kids secrets or ask for directions. “And if someone touches my boobie spots, I will call the newspaper to report them,” she told me. Okay then. Little mamacita was ready.  We cannot shelter our children, but we can empower them. Parents need to be having these conversations. Parents need to be teaching their children what Safe and Unsafe Touches are, what their Safety Voice is, that the child is in charge of their body, and to speak to a Safe Adult when something doesn’t feel right.

   “My Body is Special” is such a great tool – for parents and kids. The book is something I will now use with both of my kiddos as I teach them about safety, listening to their tummy voices (instincts), and speaking up when they don’t feel right. I actually recommend that you read the book backwards — start with the Parent Guide, and work through any issues or hangups you may have. (For example, we need to be able to say penis, vagina, breasts, and buttocks just as easily as we say “elbow”. Let’s go the whole nine yards and throw in testicles and vulva.) Then read through the illustrated story with your children, having age appropriate discussions. Once you do it, I promise, it isn’t that tough and it comes as easily as “Look both ways before you cross the street”. We say that to our kids all the time. But come to think of it, how many kids are hit by cars each year? Remember the stats above, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 5 boys will be sexually abused before they become a legal adult. 1 in 3, 1 in 5. Start talking to your kids.

I really recommend you get this book to use with your family, and on a quiet evening or weekend, work through the KidSafe Foundation website, there is so much good info in there I don’t even think I can link it all.  Melissa Wardy is the founder of  Mom-created apparel company Pigtail Pals – Redefine Girly   Pigtail Pals Mission:  is empowering girls and educating parents to “Redefine Girly”. Our blog discusses media literacy, sexualization, gender stereotypes, and body image. Our shops offers inspiring apparel and gifts for girls. We show the world just how smart, daring and adventurous girls can be.  IT IS TIME TO REDEFINE GIRLY!

  Thank you Melissa for your amazing review!!!

Testimonials

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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