I AM SAFE
Helping Prevent Childhood Sexual Abuse with a Coloring Book on What To Do If…
The coloring book, I AM SAFE, has pleasant, cheerful pictures and begins with safety tips children are already comfortable and familiar with, such as fire safety or bike safety. It moves into healthy ways to express the concepts of good touch/bad touch, what to do if an adult gives them a present to keep a bad secret, etc. As a child goes through the book, it presents protective concepts in the same way for abuse as it does for fire safety, helping the child learn without being frightened.
Most importantly, along with the coloring book comes a parent/teacher/advocate companion. This companion book has smaller versions of the same pictures, so an adult can color along with the child, creating a comforting setting rather than a “We need to talk” discussion setting. The adult version has additional information that can be adapted to the child’s age and level of understanding, including statistics, questions to ask, and some great ideas, such as a family password.
I AM SAFE is created for advocacy groups, churches, schools, and homes – appropriate for children in sheltered environments as well as children overcoming past abuse.
Personal Note by Author Kimberly Rae:When I first had kids, if someone told me I should talk with my children at an early age about good touch/bad touch, and rules about what to do if an adult crossed the boundaries into inappropriate behavior, I’d have probably shrunk away and thought that was over-the-top paranoid. Besides, how would I bring up the topic without telling them way more than they needed to hear?Now that I know that 90% of childhood sexual abuse cases occur with someone the child already knows, I don’t assume that strangers are the only danger to my children, and if I keep them from suspicious people, they will be safe.Predators are good at getting adults and children to trust them, and they often target places where they gain access to lots of kids in authority-based environments (such as churches, summer camps, schools, etc.).I write and train on human trafficking and over the years my research has brought me to what I believe is one of the most important and most overlooked aspects of trafficking – childhood sexual abuse. There is a huge, huge overlap between victims of childhood abuse and victims of childhood and adult exploitation.We might be able to shield the children we love from being targeted on the internet or in the mall, but the fact that child abuse frequently happens by someone the child knows (and often someone the entire family trusts) is terrifying.Because of this, kids need to be taught when behavior crosses from appropriate and loving to inappropriate and abusive. However, like me, many adults are wary of broaching the topic, unsure of how to present helpful information without over-educating or scaring children. Others just don’t know what to say.I partly created this resource for myself. I have two children and would much rather talk comfortably over a coloring page than sit them down at the table and have a training session that will make us all nervous. I wanted something conservative parents would feel comfortable sharing with their children. I wanted something I could offer parents, teachers or advocates that would help victims talk about it and overcome, taking away vulnerability to further exploitation in the future.I can’t express how much I want childhood sexual abuse to stop. How important it is that children are empowered to know that when something is wrong, they have options and what those options are. To understand that sexual abuse is a crime and should be treated as such.Right now statistics say 1 in every 4 women and 1 in every 6 men experienced some form of childhood sexual abuse. I meet them often when I speak. Many have still never told. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, through resources like I AM SAFE, we could change that statistic for the next generation?