Helping Kids Say No
An after school care provider allegedly sexually abused at least one small child at a school in our area.
I can barely allow my mind to tiptoe the slightest bit toward this idea. My entire being revolts against it. But it reminds me that I’ve meant to recommend a book for awhile, a really well-done book on a very important topic: helping our children say no.
The book is called I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private. It is co-written by a boy and his mother from the son’s perspective and manages to be thoroughly informative and practical without being scary. Both Owlet and Platypup like reading it and talking through the questions/discussions sprinkled throughout. They request it routinely, and reading it over and over together gives me increasing confidence in their ability to recognize and hopefully avoid or escape a potentially abusive situation if possible and if not, to tell a trusted adult as soon as they can.
The book is full of nuance that is nonetheless still appropriate for preschoolers and kindergarteners — it addresses common childhood curiosity about the opposite sex, differentiates between treats and bribes, and even walks through what to do if someone who should unquestioningly be a safe “green flag” person (such as a parent) turns out not to be. It does not shy away from how common sexual abuse is; rather, it uses that fact as a route to healing, to emphasize that it is not their fault if it happens to them.
I am so grateful to Kimberly King for transforming her son’s close call into an empowering guiding light. Until sexual violence ceases to be a pillar of our society, I Said No! should be on every child’s bookshelf.