Three years ago, when I was on my children’s school council, I broached the subject of sexual abuse prevention education. I asked my fellow committee members why we did not have such program in our primary school. No-one gave me a satisfactory answer, and time and time again the topic was placed to the bottom of the agenda. I decided then and there that I personally would try to do something about educating our children and our community about the importance of body safety.
The statistics of 1 in 4 girls and I in 7 boys will be sexually interfered with before they reach the age of 18 (Australian Institute of Criminology 2004) is truly frightening. Our children need to know their body is their body and no-one has the right to touch it inappropriately. Perpetrators rarely target confident children.
I challenged myself to write a picture book that broached the subject of sexual interference. I felt qualified to do this as a published author, teacher and mother. I wanted to write a story that was neither confronting nor frightening for both parents and children. I had seen picture books used in philosophy classes with kinder and primary school-aged children, and I knew it was a powerful medium when discussing difficult topics.
After I had written the manuscript for Some Secrets, I showed it to three publishers. All three rejected it as too ‘educational’. My husband and I then decided we would publish the book ourselves, at our own expense. We are by no means affluent so this was a large commitment on my family’s part.
The next hurdle was finding an illustrator. Two illustrators I approached both said they felt uncomfortable with the topic. Finally, I asked Craig Smith. Craig’s words to me were ‘the topic makes me feel uncomfortable but that is every reason why I should do it’. And I am eternally grateful for his response and sensitive, beautiful illustrations.
In October 2011, Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept was published under our own imprint, UpLoad Publishing. We sell the book through our website to keep the price down, and social networking and newsletters have been crucial in our marketing.
Lastly, I strongly recommend to all parents that ‘body safety’ (sexual abuse prevention education) should become a normal part of your parenting conversation with your children. We teach water safety and road safety, it is crucial that we teach our children body safety. Also, I will be lobbying our state education departments to make sexual abuse prevention education mandatory in all Australian schools. Please join me in this quest by asking your child’s school or kinder if they are teaching protective behaviours and/or sexual abuse prevention education. If they are not, please ask why not.