January 25, 2010

LKL Web Exclusive: Stacey Honowitz on talking about sexual abuse

Posted: 12:36 PM ET

NOTE: This is a LKL web exclusive by Stacey Honowitz, FL State Prosecutor and frequent LKL guest.  Honowitz is also the author of "My Privates are Private."

In today's society, "My Privates are Private" should be a staple in every household with children. This book was written to put both parents and children at ease when discussing this difficult and delicate subject matter.

The reality is this; sexual abuse is widespread in our culture and the idea of having a discussion about it can be uncomfortable and awkward. Sexual abuse has no boundaries, and because the crime is so secretive, we have come to learn that it touches every race, socio-economic and religious background, never really steering clear of anyone.

These are the reasons that I wrote the book; because after years of prosecuting these cases there was one theme that resonated throughout most of the cases I filed and ultimately went to trial on. Kids were afraid to speak up, to tell someone what was going on, and the idea of reporting someone made them feel bad.

Betsy Boodle puts all of those thoughts to rest. This little girl shares the importance of reporting, speaking your mind and not feeling guilty for making the report. The book is in a playful, limerick format which is not intimidating, which makes the message much easier to remember. Betsy says "even though I am young and short, I won't be afraid to go to court" and parents should not be afraid to discuss a subject that could change their lives.

The book will never go out of style nor will it be "dated" because sexual abuse will always be a part of our society. Whenever I give a lecture to parents about the importance of talking to their children about sexual abuse they would always ask me what would be the "proper" way to accomplish that goal.

I always knew that writing this book would make a difficult subject palatable. This book is great at "breaking the ice" and engaging children in a discussion about something that it so important. Parents never think it could be "their child" who becomes a victim, but unfortunately we see so much of these crimes that kids need to be warned and informed.

This book gives a sense of empowerment to children who are abused and gives them the encouragement to never fear speaking up. The ability to openly communicate with your child is half the battle in over coming what could be a dire situation, and often finding the right words to describe abuse is what hinders in the reporting of it.

"My Privates are Private"' finally initiates frank and open discussions, and will never make anyone feel embarrassed or ashamed if they are a victim. Betsy Boodle advocates in this book the many ways that you can report abuse and teaches others about being strong and standing up for their rights. She says the most important words, "I know my rights, and I'll speak my mind, and in the end I'll be just fine". This is the message that every child will take away with them after reading this book.

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