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on November 3, 1999
The only reason to give this little book 5 stars is the lack of a 6 star category. My own children are grown now, but this is a book we will share with future grandchildren. My children were educated about "right and wrong touches" at home, in school, and at church. Thankfully they were spared such an experience, I was not. As a survivor of childhood molestation who told no one for nearly 20 years, I felt all the responsibilty for the abuse, and the total inability to tell a parent, teacher, or friend. Some of the scare are with me still, but Sandy's book empowers child and parent alike. The language, illustrations, and approach are frank but gentle. Presentation is sensitive to very young children, and different terms for body parts. The read-aloud thrust strengthens parent-child interaction about this vital topic. Best of all, the refences for further reading and help organizations provides the tools to go further in education, or to obtain assistance if the worst case has occurred. Actually the worst of all cases is to have abuse, and no one to tell. Bless you Sandy, keep books like these coming!
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on March 28, 2012
I chose not to read this book to my 5 year old after reading the first 6 pages and then flipping through the rest of the illustrations. I bought 2 other books on this subject that were a huge improvement over this one. "No Trespassing-This is my body" is a nice basic introduction to the topic for very young children. For kids who are 4 or 5 or older I recommend "I said NO" which is much more detailed about saying no to bribes, threats, and lies without creating any scared or uncomfortable feelings. "The right touch" had a creepy scuzzy feel to it. I personally don't like the huge eyes with almost no whites of the eyes showing, but I was willing to overlook that if the content was good. In the beginning of the story the mother is tucking her son into bed and she's hugging him, gently tickling him, and then it says, "I like to pretend to bite your ear." And then "she nuzzled his earlobe and made turkey sounds." The hug and the gentle tickle was fine but I thought the ear thing isn't something that everyone does and my son wouldn't have understood this reference as playful, but probably would have just thought it was weird. I would have skipped those lines if I had ever read it to my son.

A few pages later the mother begins to tell a story about a little girl who got tricked by a man in her neighborhood. It describes how she was lured into his home to see some baby kittens. As the story goes on it says, "The man said,'If you sit on my lap, I'll show you the kittens.' Then the little girl got an uncomfortable feeling. She was about to go home when the man tried to put his hand down her panties." I felt this was overly descriptive and overly scary because it was an attempted attack and described by the mother as a true story. I think doing general what-if scenarios about what to do IF a stranger, a friend, a baby-sitter, etc. tries various bribes, lies, or threats works better than a personal story that really happened. Just because it's important to be aware of sexual crimes doesn't mean that I should sit down and read detailed reports about what happened to a person in a sexual crime. It's more important to read about safety precautions, what to do if a situation arises, and ways to prevent it. I just felt like this story puts all the focus on the yucky details of what happens instead of what to do and how to handle potential situations.

Also, it goes on to describe how the man got into big trouble because he broke the law. The book does talk about how no one, including family members, baby-sitters, and older kids should try to touch them, but with the story that implies that the man went to jail, I think it would discourage children from telling when the person touching them is someone they care about. Overall it seems to gloss over the issue when it comes to family members or other children and has more of a "stranger danger" approach. I want my child to know that anyone; teachers, family members, kids his own age or older may try to get him to play private part games too, so that he's prepared for any scenario, not just a stranger in the neighborhood. "I said NO" is perfect for this and is the book I recommend over "The right touch". Oh, one more note, this book has illustrations of boy parts and girl parts, which I'm not totally against, but I prefer using textbook quality human anatomy illustrations for this purpose. It's just weird with a full head-to-toe nudity illustration of a little boy and little girl standing naked with smiles on thier faces like getting photographed or drawn completely naked is normal. I much prefer the scientific approach of human anatomy books, even though they are more detailed and of adults, it feels more appropriate to me.
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on June 27, 1998
The book is a wee bit bigger than 8 1/2 by 11, a very good size for reading to a child. It is gorgeously and warmly illustrated by Jody Bergsma, a woman of great talent and much understanding of the child's eye.
This is a book for helping to prevent child sexual abuse. Sandy is an expert in this problem, and has done much work to help put an end to it. In this book she has done a very great service to a (hopefully) much wider audience.
There is a "note to parents and teachers" at the beginning of the book, which discusses the question of child sexual abuse in a succinct, knowing, and helpful manner, better than I've ever seen it dealt with.
Then the story. I really like the way that Sandy has chosen to present this difficult topic. The book describes a conversation between a loving mother and her son Jimmy, in which she gently and carefully raises the topic of "touching problems" and goes on from there. This must be a godsend for parents who might have difficulty in starting a conversation about something so intimate. They can "break the ice" by reading this book to their child, and then perhaps repeat the conversation with their own child for real. The converstion between Jimmy and his mother covers just about everything that a small child needs to know, in a very subtle, gentle, and wise way. Like when intimate touching is OK (doctor, diaper changing, parental tending to hurts, etc.). Like how to say NO to somebody. Like how sexual touching is really not that much different from bullying and playing tricks: it's bad, it's not your fault, and grownups can help you stop it.
There is great wisdom in this book. I see it especially in what Sandy has chosen to leave out. There are no graphic details, just phrases such as "touching you under your clothes". There is no need for more, since if things have gone that far they are already very wrong, and that's all that a small child has to know. There is no naming of body parts. There *is* a picture of ! a girl's body and a boy's body, but Sandy chose to leave out the labels and let parents choose the words that they are comfortable with.
I won't go much further in describing this book - you all should order it and see for yourself - but I will give one last word of praise for Jody Bergsma's illustration on the back cover: it's called "Garden of Children" and depicts children and animals expressing various emotions, in a big beautiful collage of faces. It's apparently used much by counsellors in helping very young people identify their feelings. My two young readers commented the most about that illustration. It's available as a poster, too, but I won't tell you how to order it. You have to buy Sandy's book to find out.
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on August 9, 2003
Child molestation is an uncomfortable topic. But far worse, it is a very real danger. A large percentage of childhood molestation goes unreported, silently scarring a child for life. This book strikes the right balance: it is not too technical, not awkward, and most importantly not frightening. The message is conveyed through a mom telling a story to her child and through repetition. The content and wording is geared toward a child as young as 3 although concepts such as trickery and secrecy are a little difficult to teach at this age. The book gives context and viable solutions that a child can handle. My child is now very good at screaming "Get away from me; I'll tell my mom and dad!" Don't take the risk; read this book.
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on June 27, 2000
The best source I have seen to date for very young children on the subject of sexual abuse. Such a tough subject and very well written and illustrated.
Every parent should be pro-active and discuss abuse, this title is sure to open the door to communication. It also does so in a child friendly manner and does not shock or upset even the most conservative reader.
An invaluable and excellent tool for any adult to help educate and arm young innocent children. Perfect addition for any library.
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on February 5, 2003
I felt this book is a must for children. It is the best book I have read to teach children how to protect themselves. There are so many tricks people use to get access to children. This book covers them all, including trickery, deceit and secrets. It also teaches children to listen to their own internal warning system. This is so important so they will act on it and not ignore it.
I was not sure how to approach the topic with my 4 year olds. This book made it possible to prepare them without scaring them.
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on May 17, 2008
I bought this book because I wanted help teaching my daughter why she needs to keep her privates covered and the reviews said this book was great for children as young as three years old. I personally felt this book was a little much for my five year old daughter so I decided against reading it to her. I wasn't comfortable reading about `a man trying to put his hand down a child's panties while sitting on his lap.' I'm pretty surprised I am the only one who feels this way. I also bought `Your Body Belongs To You' by Cornelia Spelman and felt that book was much more appropriate for her so that is the book I read with her. I think The Right Touch is better for children a little older or any child you might suspect has possibly been abused.
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VINE VOICEon March 24, 2005
An excellent, pro-active tool to help families empower themselves regarding child molestation. The text is gentle and direct and the illustrations are flowing and visually soothing. This book has the right touch of intelligence, compassion and clarity that is needed to discuss this very serious topic.

I like the way Jimmy's mother has night time chats with her son; she uses this time for roundtable discussions on what constitutes a "good touch" or a "bad touch" and that anything involving force, lying and sadness are all indicators of "bad touches." One important point this book includes is that bad touches are NOT always done by strangers. This is truly one of the best books on the subject and one that will certainly make for a more safety-savvy environment.

I recommend this book together with Cornelia Spelman's book, "Your Body Belongs to You," Linda Walvoord Girard's "My Body is Private" and Peter Alsop's gentle song, "My Body" on "Songs on Sex & Sexuality." These are invaluable works that are geared specifically for families.
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In my experience, young children are profoundly intuitive. That is to say, they `know' some things by means other than personal experience or having been instructed or shown.

Their intuition is, ordinarily, most sensitive to their parents and, therefore, young children learn to know certain things without their ever being explicitly mentioned. This can be a problem. For example, children sometimes learn, by parental omission and/or avoidance, things that are NOT OK to talk about. Not infrequently, these subjects are the ones the parents, themselves, would have the most difficulty discussing with their children. With older kids (early teens) `sex' is the most famous of these issues. Mom says to Dad, "Have you had `the' talk with Johnny yet, dear?" Dad is concerned about their 13 year-old daughter Mary and asks mom, "Honey, have you had `the' talk with Mary yet?" Sex: awkward subject matter for many parents to address with children. I recall my own experience when at 12 or 13, my father sat me down and with a very straight and somber face, looked me in the eye and asked me, "Son, do you know where babies come from?" Having grown up on the streets of Boston, I said, "Sure!" My dad looked immediately relieved and said, simply, "Good.... Glad to hear it." That was the end of our `talk' and he never again broached the subject with me.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Sandy Kleven's important book being reviewed here brings parents a tool that can be used to raise one of the most difficult aspects of sexual activity with young kids (3-7 years old) - that of sexual abuse.

Time have changed - or at least they seem to have. News stories about young children being inappropriately touched by adults are not as uncommon as they used to be. Is there more of it going on? Or, is the media simply reporting it more often. Reporting laws across the country usually mandate adults having professional contact with kids to report, in writing, any `suspicion' of sexual abuse to the appropriate public authority, most usually the local County's Children's Protective Services unit. Whether it is the prevalence of the activity that has increased or simply the open reporting of it when it does happen (most likely a combination of both) it remains one of the most difficult areas for parents to helpfully educate their children about. Part of the education is to do it in a way that conveys to the child that this is not only just OK to talk about if something should happen - but that the parents WANT them to tell them about it! That they will not get into trouble for telling.

Kids also need to learn that there are different kinds of touching. Some OK, and some not. This wonderfully illustrated (by Jody Bergsma) short (30 pages) book talks about that and related issues in a way that makes the reading to a child of it by a parent a natural, relaxed and nearly matter-of-fact activity: Not unlike reading a "Potty" book to child being readied to stop using diapers. The key value of this nicely and simply written book is that it encourages and invites talk between the child and parent if/when something questionable or untoward should occur in this area.

I have heard some parents contend that teaching about this should be the job of the schools. There are, in fact in many communities, school based programs dealing with Sexual Abuse - but I would contend that those activities need be secondary to a child's feeling of open permission to tell his/her own parent about having been wrongly treated or touched.

The language and visuals are entirely age appropriate for preschoolers and early primary grade children - and one reading of it with your own child will tell them that this is an OK think to talk about and will go a long way toward countering the power of the threats child abusers frequently make: Telling the children it is their secret and they mustn't ever tell anyone. This would be, in fact, the worse thing that could happen.

You and your child may never need this book - but exposing yourself and him/her to it together cannot help but reinforce the trusting nature that most children naturally have toward their parents - especially with information about something that just doesn't feel right.

Browse through a bookstore and read it - You will see what I mean. Buy it and use it - Your child and you, as a parent, will benefit from it.
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on February 8, 2012
This book had such good reviews and had won awards, and seemed to be the quintessential book for children about child abuse. After getting it, i was a little disappointed. I think this book is popular because it doesn't get into the nitty gritty of the issue, which some parents find too uncomfortable to talk about with their kids. It is very basic and better for very young (2 or 3) children to start getting familiar with the topic, however I would recommend that parents use it to start more detailed conversations about the possibilities of abusive situations. Or, at least get more in depth books to go with it as he or she grows. Even though they were not perfect either, the best books I could find were "I Said No" which goes into more detail about sexual abuse, and "Amazing You" which only discusses body parts and reproduction (read my reviews about those too). I think it is better to have books about both topics in separate books so that your child doesn't equate their privates solely with abuse. Coming from a family of sexual abusers and victims, as well as having my own baby girl, makes this topic very important to me and I hope more and better books on this subject continue to be written so that parents will be able to get the message across and keep their kids safe. I have all three of the books mentioned and I will buy more if better ones are written. Having said that, I will also say that I have done one thing that I think has more potential to protect my child against sexual abuse than books. After explaining what private parts are and what they are called, I taught my daughter to say "Don't touch my privates!" in a loud and clear voice. We practice it regularly so that she feels comfortable saying it anywhere at any time. If your child is as young as mine (2 1/2) he or she might say it to you, other family or friends, or even to the clerks at the store. Get over your embarrassment and simply explain that you are teaching her about boundaries. Never tell them to be quiet or not to say that. Simply say, "Ok, I won't touch your privates" or "no one is trying to touch your privates right now, but we are glad that you can say that loud and clear". Most kids who are abused don't know what to say or do when they are approached by an abuser, especially if it is someone they know and like, especially other children. Don't think you can just read a book to your kid and all is well. It is something that should be discussed regularly in detail. Write your own book made especially for you and your kids. Use other books to get ideas about what to talk about and how to approach a plan of action. For example, Say "don't", get away, tell people until someone helps you. etc.
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