Your children are precious, made in the image of God.
But they are also vulnerable–arguably the most vulnerable members of our community. Because of this, I’d like to recommend a children’s book called God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies. Authors Justin Holcomb, PhD, and Lindsey Holcomb, MPH, made it their goal to equip parents in protecting their children from sexual assault.
As stated in the book’s introduction to parents, “one in four women and one in six men have been or will be assaulted in their lifetime.” It goes on to say that “15% of those assaulted are under age 12, and 29% are between ages 12 and 17.” This adds up to almost half of all assaults being perpetrated against minors.
Regarding trafficking specifically, the statistics aren’t much different. The average age a child is first trafficked is between twelve and fourteen, but even infants have been rescued from traffickers.
It’s never too early to teach children to protect their bodies.
My guess is that you want to keep your children innocent as long as possible, right? You want them to think they live in a world where nothing bad can ever happen to them–no grief, no pain, no shame. I so wish that were true. But in today’s world, keeping your children ignorant actually leaves them open to exploitation.
Through a simple conversation between a dad, mom, and their two kids, God Made All of Me gently teaches which touches are okay and which are not. Using appropriate language for young children, it points out which places are private and not for sharing.
There is typically a level of shame involved when touched inappropriately.
Traffickers and abusers know how to manipulate a child’s mind. They make the child think that what the trafficker is doing to them is okay, is their own fault, or is what they deserve. They train the child to keep it secret, saying that if he or she speaks up, the police will come and take the child to jail.
Since children are often made to feel that certain parts of their bodies are shameful, they don’t recognize when they are being abused. The premise of this book is that God made ALL parts of us and called everything “very good,” but some parts aren’t for sharing.
This book reminds the child to tell a trusted adult if someone makes him or her feel uncomfortable, and that secrets are not good. It also reinforces the fact that children can decline touch if they wish, even if it’s from someone they love.
Why is this important?
Tragically, the fastest-growing type of trafficking is familial trafficking. Yes, in the United States, an increasing number of men and women are selling their children or other relations for sex. Forty-one percent of identified child trafficking cases begin with family member recruitment. In the U.S., the average age of a familial trafficking victim is only five years old.
Pedophilia and child sexual assault have also been on the rise. I’m not saying these things to scare you, but rather, so you can be aware of what’s happening in our society. In the back of God Made All of Me is a section for parents that describes nine ways to protect your children from sexual abuse. So, pick up a copy of this valuable little book today and teach your children how to protect their bodies!