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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.

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

Tips for divorced families during the Holidays



imageParental separation or divorce can be traumatic for children, even when it’s the most reasonable solution. And navigating the waters can be just as difficult for the adults involved. Add holiday obligations, expectations and a newly defined “togetherness” (or lack thereof) to the picture, and the ordinary stress resulting from divorce can quickly swell to levels that provoke anxiety and overwhelm for all.

 This is especially true for the kids as they’re often more affected and conflicted by such things as changes in routines and feelings of split loyalty and unwarranted guilt, yet not as equipped to handle them as one would hope the adults are. Their feelings of loss can be heightened at the holidays amid the contrasting projection of others’ excitement and expectations. For some children, this brew of emotional strife and external tension can evoke feelings of depression, physical ailment and/or the desire to avoid holiday festivities altogether.

No good parent wants to impart stress, anxiety and ill will in the hearts and minds of the children, especially during the holiday season, which we expect to be a time of reunion, celebration, forgiveness, hope and good will.  But often the adults are still reeling from the newness or ongoing effects of a divorce or separation. They may be so busy tending to holiday-related tasks and events that they miss the signals that a child is suffering in silence and don’t recognize the many opportunities they have to ameliorate stress-provoking situations and facilitate a sense of calm, predictability and even joy by way of some simple forethought and planning.

Sometimes the most precious gift an adult can give a child for the holidays is a sense of emotional support and stability and the fond memories that spring from the fun, formative moments that such an environment encourages.

Tips for the holidays for newly separated or divorced families

1. Put down the anger and discontent for the holidays.

2. Thanksgiving: Try to preserve existing family traditions in spirit and be flexible and creative in holiday planning. If your custody agreement is somewhat flexible and you’re making an effort to cooperate with your ex-spouse to put the needs of the children first, consider doing two Thanksgivings. For the non-custodial parent, plan to celebrate a week early. The holiday is about being thankful and enjoying family time, after all. You can still celebrate this together, over a wonderful turkey (or alternative) dinner, regardless of the calendar date. On Thanksgiving day, the custodial parent should facilitate a phone call to the other parent. Don’t assume the kids will remember to call on their own; more often than not, they won’t! Kids tend to forget about the other parent when they’re wrapped up in holiday travel and catching up with cousins. There’s nothing worse for the non-present parent than feeling forgotten on a special day, and the unnecessary guilt the kids might feel if they did forget can easily be prevented. The custodial parent should take photos of the kids and text or email them to the non-present parent.

3. Christmas, Hanukkah and winter holidays: These can be difficult holidays to divide, but maintaining some form of a tradition that will continue year after year can provide a sense of stability for children. Perhaps an annual plan such as this: The kids spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with Dad and Christmas day, dinner and New Year’s Eve with Mom. Kids crave tradition.

4. Both parents need to demonstrate holiday spirit by helping kids make or buy small gifts for the other parent. It’s important for the parents to model such thoughtfulness; kids feel guilty if they have nothing to share or give to a parent. Good, simple ideas include:

Kids’ artwork or poetry: Take a day to have each child draw, paint or write something special for Mom or Dad and add simple frames.

Paint a piece of pottery for Mom or Dad. Coffee cups are great.

Make a free family website.

Remember that it’s the thought that counts!

5. Consider a tradition of joint gift-giving (gifts from both “Mom and Dad”). This comes in handy for big-ticket wish-list items. Parents can share the expense; everybody wins!

6. If you attempt a holiday together, be careful. Especially if the split is recent, heed the following:

  • Understand that emotions are still raw and kids are still adjusting to this huge life change.

  • Avoid alcohol, which can fuel hostile or depressive feelings.

  • Don’t discuss difficult issues or topics with your ex, either in private or in front of the kids.

  • Agree to keep all discussions within a “non-confrontational sphere” to avoid arguments or disputes.

  • Be aware that sharing the holiday during a separation or divorce can add to the confusion and might lead kids down a path of false hopes about parents reuniting.

 7. School party safe zone: Attend school functions and show your child support together. Married or not, it is always nice to have Mom and Dad at a school party. Both Mom and Dad can bring a baked good, and everyone can have fun.

 8. Avoid speaking in a negative tone or manner about your ex. Especially during the holidays, avoid all conversations about your ex unless they are kind. Try to get in the holiday spirit by practicing some forgiveness and good will.

 9. Show compassion. There’s usually one parent who is not handling the divorce well. Kids may consider that parent the injured party. There is nothing wrong with showing your ex compassion and forgiveness during the holidays or any other time throughout the year. If you can’t be married, at least you can be kind to one another.

 10. Always avoid “parentification,” especially during the holidays. Parentification is a form of role reversal, in which a child is inappropriately given the role of meeting the emotional needs of the parent. Don’t confide in your child about the divorce or other life stressors as if they were a friend or other adult. Don’t share with your child that you are depressed because Mommy left you. You have to put on a strong front and protect your children at all costs from any additional stress. Going through a divorce is hard. Get a good therapist or talk to a good friend. Children should never be put in the middle of adult business and emotions.

 11. Don’t discuss financial issues with children. “I couldn’t buy you that surf board this year, son, because I have to pay Mom alimony and I’m totally broke.” Kids should not be privy to what a parent pays for child support, alimony or gifts. Such comments are a lame attempt at trying to make a child pick a side. This is called parent alienation.

12. Never participate in parent alienation! This is a group of behaviors that are damaging to children’s mental and emotional well-being and can interfere with a child/parent relationship. It is also considered a form of child abuse in most states. These behaviors, whether verbal or non-verbal, cause a child to be mentally manipulated or to believe that a loving parent is the cause of all his or her problems. The following rules apply to all parents, stepparents and extended family:

  • Never speak an ill word about the other parent.

  • Don’t speak to your lawyer on the phone in within earshot of your children.

  • Don’t share with your child any of the details of your divorce. Even if you’ve been hurt, cheated on, lied to, abandoned, etc. Don’t risk the chance that your child will develop ill will toward the other parent because of you. Kids need to be able to love both parents. Participating in this type of behavior can place the kids in the middle. It can cause a hatred of the other parent and ruin the potential for relationship growth and improvement.

  • Keep your divorce and any negative comments from a new spouse about your ex-spouse off your social-media pages. Kids can see way more than you suspect. Be the adults, not the children.

When Your Parents Divorce is available at: When Your Parents Divorce

Forget About Octoberfest… Check out AUTHORFEST 2015!


IMG_3184 Details for Authorfest 2015

Sure, Octoberfest can be fun! I had a wonderful afternoon with the NOBLEMEN of Virginia Beach. Who can say no to german music, festive costumes, german folk songs, pretzels, beer, and friends.  For a change of pace, come and join me and many other local authors at a fun, free and fabulous event on November 14th here in Virginia Beach.  Authorfest 2015 will be held at the Virginia Beach Central Public Library on November 14th from 10:00am to 4:00pm. I will be there with my books and some giveaways:)

There won’t be any beer or music. But, you will meet some very interesting people and spark your creative side.

“If a story is in you, it has to come out” ~ William Faulkner