Monthly Archives: March 2016



One of the most essential parts of sexual abuse prevention and normal, healthy sexual development in children is to talk about it! This is step number 3 from the 5 Steps To Protecting our children from As a mom of three children, kindergarten teacher, child development professional, and sexual abuse prevention facilitator… I can tell you with certainty that children are naturally curious creatures. There is nothing wrong with starting a healthy, developmentally appropriate,conversation with your child at an early age about thier bodies.

My first year of teaching kindergarten was a truly amazing experience.  I  was 23 years old and ready to get to work. I was fresh out of grad-school and thought I really knew what I was doing. One of my biggest regrets of this year was an experience I mis-handled. One of the little girls in my class came in one day and shared with me that her dad had been, “Taking her cookie”. I really didn’t ask any questions about this statement. I just told her to tell her dad to get his own cookie and redirected her back to work. The next day, she came in and report the same thing. However, she was crying. I stopped to ask a few more questions and then all of a sudden it hit me. I asked her to show me where her cookie was. She pointed to her private area. I felt horrible and sick to my stomach. I called the school nurse to come down and help. This child had reported a sexual abuse event to me and I didn’t get it right away.  This experience helped me truly understand the value of language and using the correct terms when discussing private parts. Families have different words for private parts. However, it is very important that we teach our children the correct terms as well. In the event our child ever needs to report an incident,  it is essential that they know the words to use that most people will understand.

In our book, “I SAID NO! a kid-to-kid guide to keeping private parts private” we  simply say, “Private parts for boys are the parts of your body that are under your underwear. Private parts for girls are the parts of your body that are under your underwear and undershirt. There are doctor names for your private parts. We are sure you have heard of a few of them! You might want to talk about some of those names now“.  Talking about it opens up a dialogue, provides comfort, and leads to understanding. It is a great idea to start the conversation of body parts as soon as possible. Our pediatrician, Dr. Christopher Wrubel, now uses our book to help start this important conversation with his patients at wellness check ups for young children. As children grow, the questions and information you need to share with them will change. In today’s world, it is more important than ever to have this conversation to protect your children from harm.


Minimize the Risk


imageMinimize the Risk

According to Darkness2Light, there are 5 simple steps that parents can take to help keep their children safe. Last week I discussed the first step, Learn the Facts. This week I will be discussing step 2: Minimize the Risk.

How to minimize the risk for your children as they navigate the unsafe waters of the internet and cell phones?

Access to the internet poses an enormous risk to children and as the parent you have the fortune of being somewhat in control of this topic at home. It is essential that you spend time  researching this ever changing online world. Start by  updating your parent controls and internet/phone safety plan.  Review with your child the ways they can stay safe online. It is very important to monitor tweens and teens with their cell phone and internet usage. In our house, privacy online is not a right. Here is a great article posted recently by THE GUARDIAN. This article is a great place to start and offers many extra resources and videos.

Even when a parent monitors a child online, events can occur that are beyond our control. Sadly, a local girl from Suffolk, Virginia was lured away from her home and held against her will this year. This is a terrifying story and it could happen to any one of us who has a teen. Please click on this link and read the story of Sanise Hall. Denise Allen, Sanise’s mom, was already actively monitoring  her daughter’s social media and online activities. According to the Pilot Online,  “Allen was upset about text messages her daughter had been sending to boys she knew, and Allen told her she was going to start restricting social media access”.

Do not let your children under the age of 12 have unsupervised cell phone time or computer time. Use your parent controls on all devices while they are online. They can get into such a mess! There are a number of apps you can put on your phones and computers to help you keep track of your children and restrict access if needed. A friend of mine just shared with me a really cool app she uses to monitor and restrict her child and his internet time. Check out: OUR PACT

OUR PACT is an app you can install on your child’s phone. You can set hours for access to apps and it also shuts down the web browser. This app puts the control of app usage back in the hands of the parents. This app can essentially turn a “smart phone” into a “dumb phone” with one click. This is great if your child is grounded from the internet, but you still want him to have the ability to call or text you from his phone.

Make sure you are aware of some of the most dangerous apps and websites that young children and tweens use. Facebook, twitter, and instagram should be monitored constantly by parents. But, Have you heard of these?

1. : This awful app lets kids ask and answer questions anonymously. This app has been noted and mentioned in a few recent suicides. It is an open invitation to be a bully and get away with it. Stay away!

2.       KiK Messenger : This is a private messenger app that their parents can’t see. There isn’t much a parent can do to verify the identity of someone on KiK, this  poses a risk that a sexual predator may be  chatting with your child. It also seems that adults use it as a bit of a hook up site. Scary!

3.       Yik Yak : Is known as ‘the anonymous social wall for anything and everything’. Many kids are using this to post anonymous attacks and participate in bully behavior. For more information on bullying and the effects of cyberbullying please take a few minutes to visit Kirk Smalley at his website Stand for the Silent. Mr. Smalley came to our high school two years ago and made a huge impression on the students at our school. His story is moving and he is truly inspirational. His message is so powerful that it changed the bullying behavior at our school.

4.       Whisper : Is an awful app for children.  It lets users set up anonymous accounts to make their messages or confessions overlap a picture. Other users can then “like” or comment on. It is full of abusive and sexual content. The app also show the users location. SCARY!

5.       SnapChat: This is a popular and sometimes fun app for kids when used correctly. It allows users to send photos that will “self destruct” within 10 seconds. But, nobody tells young users that the people who receive these snapchats can take “screen shots”and keep pics forever. This app may give kids a false sense of security and can encourage kids to feel more comfortable “sexting” or sending naked photos.

6.       Vine: Vine is Twitter’s mobile app that lets kids make and share short  videos (usually 6 seconds). This app is rated for 17 and up. However, many younger teens are using it. Kids can search and easily find a number of illegal and x-rated activities here. Vine videos can be hysterically funny and harmless to  totally innapropriate.

7.       Omegle :  This is a video chat app where you do not have to give your identity and you are encouraged to chat between “YOU” and “A STRANGER” This is another anonymous app. However, there is a way to connect the Omegle app to your Facebook. When connected to facebook personal information such as home, school, location, friends and other personal identifying information can be obtained. The risk this app poses to children is huge, especially when linked to facebook. Sexual predators can stalk your child’s personal information here and use it to lure them into conversation and possible contact.

8.   Poof : This is a really sneaky and dangerous app that lets kids hide their online activity. It actually can hide all apps on your child’s phone with one touch. It is a tricky way for your child to hide their true online activity from you.

9.  ooVoo: is a free video, voice, and messaging app. Users can have group chats with up to 12 people for free – This is not a safe chat room. Stay away!

10.Tumblr: is unique in that you can find  truly wonderful content. However, there is a  dark, disturbing and illegal side.  It’s a streaming scrapbook of text, photos, and/or videos and audio clips. Users create and follow blogs that can be seen by anyone online ( If the user makes the blog public). Many teens have blogs for personal use: sharing photos, videos, music and really anything they find interesting. Unfortunately, with one simple word search, a teen can discover a world of disturbing content and bad ideas. The variety on this site is overwhelming and unregulated. Users can create “wish lists” for followers to actually send gifts from followers. It is very typical for your child to have followers that they do not know. Imagine a strange man sending your daughter a gift from her “wish list”!






Sexual Abuse Prevention Starts At Home


Sexual Abuse Prevention Starts At Home

As the very important month of sexual abuse awareness is quickly approaching, it is time to take a look at how we as parents  can personally educate ourselves on the topic of sexual abuse prevention. I am the author of “I Said NO!” a kid-to-kid guide to keeping your private parts private. I wrote this very important book with the help of my son. There are many great books out there on this topic and I encourage you to do your own research and read as many of them as you can with your children. Reading books to your children is an important start and one of the tools parents can incorporate in this toolbox. However, as parents we can do so much more in regards to prevention. If we simply read books to our children we leave out a huge piece of prevention. As adults, we are ultimately responsible for keeping our kids safe.

My son’s experience and story, as well as many other stories are shared in in a kid-friendly manner. This book, and the stories in it, were gathered through the years during my experiences as a child, student, camp counselor, teacher, mom, and sexual abuse prevention facilitator. The motivation for writing our story came after a scary sleepover. My two children slept over a neighbors house when they were 5 and 7 years old. These were good friends of ours and we had known them for years. This was before the time of cell phones and unfortunately during some health complications of our newborn. We were a Navy family at the time. Our family lived relatively far away from our support system. We learned to make friends quickly and depend on the kindness of neighbors and friends.

During this sleepover my son experienced an event with his friend. This little boy was about one year older than my son. They had played together many times and enjoyed riding bikes, going to the playground, and playing catch. The friend asked my son to do things that were more than “normal kid curiosity”. The boy used manipulation techniques that scared my son. He said things like, “If you don’t do what I am asking you to do, I won’t be your friend anymore. He also tried bribery techniques like, “If you do what I am asking you to… I will give you $50.00 Bucks! My son knew that this was a bad situation so he took action. He went down the hall to tell his sister what was going on. She was at the sleepover too.  My children read the book, Your Body Belongs To You” by Cornelia Spelman. My kids had a very solid awareness of what was safe in regards to their bodies. My son tried to tell the mom in the house about what was going on. It was late and she just yelled at the kids and told them to all go to sleep. My son tried a few things to get out of the situation. He ended up telling the mom that he felt sick and he slept in the bathroom to get remove himself from the situation.

This wasn’t an ideal solution. But, he was creative enough to get himself out of a situation that he knew did not feel right. He listened to his instincts. In the morning when I picked my two children up, I knew something was wrong right away. My son shared with me the events of the night and how he was scared. I felt horrible and did not know what to do. I was angry that my friend let this happen in her house. I blamed myself!

After researching the topic of sexual abuse prevention I stumbled upon a wonderful organization called This website is full of really important and powerful information, resources and videos. Every parent or adult that cares for children in any way should read this information and take the Stewards of Children training. If I had spent more time education myself on the facts, I might have been more successful at keeping my children safe. I highly encourage you to take the  Stewards of Light Training and become a facilitator. If you live in the Virginia Beach area, please feel free to contact me. I am very happy to come to your school, church, or youth organization and do the training for you. Please take a minute to visit me at for more information on this difficult topic.


Below is information from the Darkness2Light website:

5 Steps to Protecting Our Children


Realities, Not Trust, Should Influence Your Decisions Regarding Children

“We live in a beautiful, safe neighborhood. None of these children could be victims of sexual abuse, right?”

It is highly likely that you know a child who has been or is being abused.

    • Experts estimate that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday.3 This means that in any classroom or neighborhood full of children, there are children who are silently bearing the burden of sexual abuse.
    • Youth are 2.5 times more likely to be raped than adults.28, 29
    • About 35% of victims are 11 years old or younger.29, 30
    • 9% of 10 to 17-year-olds receive a sexual request while on the Internet.32
    • 30% of children are abused by family members.29, 33
    • As many as 60% are abused by people the family trusts.29, 33
    • Nearly 40% are abused by older or larger children.29
    • Over 90% of children who are commercially sexually exploited have a history of child sexual abuse.26
    • About 75% of child pornography victims are living at home when they are photographed. Parents are often responsible.26


Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who “tell” and are not believed are at greater risk than the general population for psychological, emotional, social, and physical problems, often lasting into adulthood. It is also likely that you know an abuser. The greatest risk to children doesn’t come from strangers but from friends and family.

People who abuse children look and act just like every one else. In fact, they often go out of their way to appear trustworthy, seeking out settings where they can gain easy access to children, such as sports leagues, faith centers, clubs, and schools.

“It can’t happen in my family. I could tell if someone I know is an abuser.”
Yet, in more than 90% of sexual abuse cases, the child and the child’s family know and trust the abuser.29, 33