I am a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City. I have spent over a decade working with children who are victims of crime. The majority of times, children do not immediately disclose the abuse and it escalates. I have written a book to teach children that their bodies are their own and if someone touches them inappropriately, they should tell a parent or teacher right away.
As a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City for more than a decade, I have often encountered children who were sexually abused for lengthy periods of time and suffered in silence. One case in particular had a profound impact on me and compelled me to write this book.
I prosecuted the case of a 9-year-old girl who had been raped by her stepfather since she was 6. She told no one. One day, the girl saw an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" about children who were physically abused. The episode, "Tortured Children," empowered the girl with this simple message: If you are being abused, tell your parents. If you can't tell your parents, go to school and tell your teacher. The girl got the message and the very next day went to school and told her teacher. I prosecuted the case for the District Attorney's office. The defendant was convicted and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.
I have thought often of that very sweet, very brave 9-year-old girl. It occurred to me that after three painful years, all it took to end her nightmare was a TV program encouraging her to "tell a teacher."
I wrote My Body Belongs to Me to continue that message. It endeavors to teach children that they don't have to endure abuse in silence. Parents and educators should use it as a tool to facilitate an open dialogue with youngsters. It is my hope that by educating girls and boys about this taboo subject, My Body Belongs to Me will prevent them from becoming victims in the first place.
My next book will be about keeping children safe on the internet.
Safety Star Media
Stop the Silence
Darkness to Light
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
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