Monday, June 26, 2017

Touching Conversations

Picture Book: God Made All of Me:                                                                A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies
Author: Justin S. & Lindsay A. Holcomb
Illustrator: Trish Mahoney
Summary: This book begins with praise from 10 psychologists, child advocates, and theologians. Next comes a detailed letter to parents explaining the importance of the message inside. Here’s a startling fact:
 Scripture is sprinkled throughout the pages.
A story begins within the context of a traditional family with 2 very inquisitive children whose questions will encourage questions from the listeners. 
It seems the older child is very comfortable with these messages and has likely heard them before. This conversation is for the younger sister. 
Here’s the heart of the message which you’ll find in the letter to parents:
God made all of you. Every part of your body is good, and some parts are private. He made the parts of your body that other people see every day, and he made your private parts. Every part is good because God made every part and called them all good. 
I especially like the less significant message that says if you don’t want to be touched (even via a hug from a relative), that’s your choice. It should be respected.  
If you are touched anyway, tell parents, teachers, or doctors. When the child responds that these people are sometimes too busy, the children are instructed to "keep asking for help." 
Subjects like bath time and doctor visits are discussed. Anatomically correct names for body parts are used.  
The children are warned about several ploys that abusers often use. They are told that rewards and games should never be a part of touching or showing private parts. Secrets are never a good situation. 
Because this family doesn’t keep secrets, the parents explain that they should be told immediately if anyone asks the children to keep a secret. Secrets are distinguished from surprises, two easily confused concepts.
The last section is a list of 9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse. The book is dedicated to Grace, an organization of professionals that provides abuse prevention training and other services. 
Hanna’s Comments: This book is designed for parents to read to 2-8 year olds and is a tool for beginning and continuing conversations and questions about sexual abuse. Typically, I feature books to read in ministry. Today I’m offering a book for those who do children’s ministry (whether ordained or not) to have handy to pass on to parents to read with their children. 
This book isn't designed for those times when a question of sexual abuse arises. Instead it is for your children’s protection from and empowerment in sexually inappropriate situations. These conversations are best done in a loving, non-threatening home and at the doctor’s office. 
If a reading is going to happen at your place of worship, parental involvement in planning is crucial. Make sure parents have read the book beforehand. I recommend having them help design the program and make all parents welcome. If parents in your faith family are suspected of such behavior, then you must report your concerns to the appropriate government authorities
Whoever reads this book should feel welcome to substitute gender-neutral words for God. I typically use Post-it notes to make such changes before reading. It is crucial that these conversations reflect your theological beliefs and spiritual values and your children feel positive about God. 
Original Publisher & Date: New Growth Press, 2015
Age & Grade Appropriateness: 2 and up, toddler and up
Formats other than Book: Digital
Scripture Connections: God created human beings in God’s own image and called us good (Genesis 1 & 2)
Idea(s) for Application: Loan or give this book to parents in your faith family when they want to have a conversation with young children that will protect and empower them should they encounter inappropriate sexual advances or contact.