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It's MY Body: A Book to Teach Young Children How to Resist Uncomfortable Touch (Children's safety series & abuse prevention) Paperback – January 1, 1982
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"This little book, has been written especially for the preschool child. Material like this can help children to cope with the problem themselves." -- The Reviewing Librarian, Vol. 12 #1 Fall 1986
"We highly recommend it . . . ." -- Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, Vol. 15, Summer 1986
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I like the examples of unwelcome nonsexual touches such as enduring hugs and kisses from somebody the child either dislikes or does not know; unpleasant variations on "acceptable" touches, such as a hug that is too firm. Good or acceptable touch is explored, such as holding someone's hand and kissing someone you like/love. A good point about doctor examinations is given - although check ups are never pleasant, it is important to discuss with children why the doctor needs to examine every part of their bodies to ensure good health with no intention to hurt. That is a special case, but it still needs to be openly discussed.
Many children love to test out their new-found powers and in reading this to a group of young children and telling them to practice declaring refusal is very effective. It is also very empowering. Being loud with an abuser will undoubtedly get them to back off as predators do not want to attract attention to themselves.
The drawback is that it can be somewhat awkward to explain to a relative or other trusted adult such as a neighbor why your child refuses a hug and expresses dislike for it, but honoring the child's wishes is paramount. For example, there are numerous cases where children with autism find hugs too overwhelming because of sensory stimuli. The onslaught of sensory stimuli can be the feel of the hugger's clothing; cologne/perfume smells; feeling constricted and scratchy beards can make hugs far from pleasant or welcome. Many nonverbal autistic children who flee hugs can have this behavior explained in this manner. I knew one child who ran from a relative because the relative was loud and booming and known to swoop down on children with raucous displays of affection. The child found the noisy display frightening and annoying. From that child's perspective, the hugger's behavior looked like an attack. Although hugs have gotten good press over time, scant attention has been given to "unpleasant" hugs and the rights of people who don't want them. Then again there is the child's personality. There are people who are not overly fond of hugs and find them restrictive, and intrusive.
The words of David Crosby from 1969, "teach your children... give them a code which you can live by..." is a good summary of this book.
This is indeed an excellent book to help people protect their children from possible abuse, sexual or otherwise. It is non-threatening and having the child/children participate by adding their voices to the work make it all the more effective.
In addition to this book, I highly recommend Linda W. Girard's "My Body is Private;" Sandy Kleven's "The Right Touch: A Read Aloud to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse" and Cornelia Spelman's "Your Body Belongs to You" and Peter Alsop's excellent collection of songs entitled "Songs on Sex & Sexuality," most particularly the song entitled "My Body." These are all family geared and outstanding teaching tools that will certainly go far in creating a safer environment.
This book has been around for a long time. I'm so glad it is still around. I will state that this book saved me from an attack in childhood. Okay, maybe not quite. I'm sure there were other factors like, the fact that I was able to run and get an adult. However, despite many saying that they don't think it will keep a child's attention because of the illustrations and such, I remember very clearly, my grandmother, who was a preschool teacher, reading this book to me and practicing how to say "no, stop, it's my body, etc." I didn't really think much of it when we were reading it so you know it didn't traumatize me or make me think up boogiemen stories. However, I don't remember how much later but, when a visiting uncle, taking advantage of other adults being on another level of the house asleep, repeatedly kept touching me in certain places that a man's hands should not grope a girl child, and asked me "not to tell," I remember that I wasn't scared or anything. I had no idea that anything was happening other than inappropriate touching on MY body that I had the right to refuse. I just told him, "no, it's my body, stop and I'm going to tell" which I did. After they questioned me, he was promptly kicked out and hates me to this day. I don't care though. I really didn't understand much at the time and no one talked about it. However, in retrospect, I realize that I had a very close call. A cousin of mine wasn't as lucky with a different uncle and subsequently suffered abuse. In any case, I just wanted to say that this book does help. At least, it did in my case.
I do wish it was more visually *interesting* as it really is geared to younger childen. It could use more color to keep up the interest. Unfortunately, I tended to lose my son's interest when I was reading this... When he was young a *message book* wasn't strong enough reason to sit still, he visually needed the pictures. That said, I still did read this when from time to time. I would just pick up where I *lost* him the previous time.
The importance of this message can't be underscored enough and I don't think that the lack of visual *punch* is enough of a reason to not buy this. On the contrary, I think you should find every way you can to teach this message to your children.