So Many Kids and So Many Parents Uneducated in Body Safety

We had a beautiful day here in Melbourne on Sunday. The sun was out, the sky was blue and the grass was green — littered with families picnicking in the magnificent Botanical Gardens. My husband and I wandered the shady paths, taking in all the joy. We even visited the children’s garden — I just love how it has been designed; everything being the perfect size for children!

As I looked over the happy families enjoying the very best of Melbourne spring weather, I could not help but think of the statistics we know to be true. One in 5 girls and 1 in 8 boys will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday (Pereda et al, 2009). 85% of children will know their perpetrator (NSW Commission for Children & Young People, 2009). We also know the most vulnerable age for children to be exposed to sexual abuse is between 3 and 8 years (Browne & Lynch, 1994). As we wandered around the gardens taking in the joyful atmosphere, I did wonder how many of these caring and devoted parents had talked to their kids about Body Safety. How many of them had begun this very important and empowering conversation. I'm sure the majority had talked to their kids about stranger danger, water safety and road safety; but sadly, I suspect most had not talked to their kids about Body Safety.

Yet, the statistics would indicated that their child is more likely to be sexually abused by a family member or close acquaintance than break a limb, drown or be run over. In my mind, I was wishing ... if only all these adults, so kindly caring for their little ones, had come to hear me talk about Body Safety. What if they were all gathered to learn how they could teach their child about safe and unsafe touch. What if I was here to pass on what I know about Body Safety Education; and what if I was here to educate the community about grooming and how important it is to believe a child if they disclose sexual abuse. Imagine how many children might be saved from the devastating, life-long effects of childhood sexual abuse. Looking around these families, the sunny day dimmed for me — so many kids, so many parents and so so many uneducated in Body Safety. Please help me and other advocates by sharing what you know about Body Safety with other families. A child’s life may well depend on it.

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Jay Sanders

Jayneen (Jay) Sanders is an experienced primary school teacher and a successful children's book author. She is also the mother of three teenage girls and has been a primary school councillor for over seven years. Her time spent in primary schools inspired her to ask: ‘What are we doing in schools to protect our children from sexual interference?’ When she realised very little was actually being done, she decided to write a book to help parents, carers and teachers to broach the subject of self-protection and to encourage children to speak up.