Comments on Child Sexual Abuse; and Book Review of “Fred the Fox Shouts ‘NO!'” By Tatiana Matthews (Commentary and Review By Michele Babcock-Nice)

“Fred the Fox Shouts ‘NO!'” By Tatiana Y. Kisil Matthews

Child sexual abuse is sadly and tragically much too prevalent and common in our society.  Infants, toddlers, children, youth, and teens – minors of all ages and backgrounds – may experience sexual abuse and/or sexual assault before they turn 18. 

In statistics provided by the website titled, “Parents for Megan’s Law and The Crime Victim’s Center,” we know that one in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused or assaulted while they are minors; the average age of those children experiencing sexual abuse or assault is between 9 to 10 years old; and less than 10% of sexual abuse or assault involving children is reported to police.

Additionally, statistics from the website state that child sexual abuse or assault usually occurs in a long-term interation between the offender and the child, with four years being the average length of time of the interaction.  Also, only about 1% of child sexual abuse and assault cases are considered to be false reports.  So, that means that 99% of the reports are true and genuine!

Readers must also be aware that much of this information is based on reported child sexual abuse and assault cases.  Therefore, child sexual abuse and assault is likely much more common and occurs more often than the statistics show since so many cases go unreported. 

In a conversation that I had with a metro Atlanta county special victims unit police investigator many years ago about child sexual abuse, he stated to me that offenders can be anyone – yes, anyone!  He shared with me that the professions of some of those whom he arrested included police officers, clergy, scout leaders, teachers, marines, and others. 

In a conversation that I had with a pediatrician, also many years ago in the same metro Atlanta county in Georgia, she shared with me that child sexual abuse and assault in day care centers and preschools is common!  If it is so common, why is there not more being done to educate the public about it and to eliminate it from occurring?

From my own research on the issue, it appears that the younger the victim or survivor is, the more vulnerable they are, and the more difficult it is to gain evidence against and prosecute the offender.

Knowing this information, understanding the statistics, realizing that offenders can be anyone, and that child sexual abuse and assault are common in day cares and preschools, as well as perpetrated by those who are known to the child, we, as a society, must do more. 

We must do more to educate and protect our children, and be sure that our children are safe where ever they are and in whatever they’re doing.  We must also do whatever we can to eliminate the stigma that often surrounds victims and survivors of sex crimes, and instead, place responsibility and seek justice for these crimes rightly on the offenders.

One way of educating toddlers and children about the privacy of their bodies, their right and need to say, “No” to others who exploit or who attempt to exploit them, and the necessity of reporting the situation to trusted adult(s) is by teaching them about acceptable and unacceptable touch (by anyone) and how to react should they experience unacceptable touch.

Tatiana Matthews’ book, Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!” is one such excellent example of a book by which parents of children – or other trusted adults – can teach children through the books’ character, Fred the Fox, about their bodily privacy, their private parts, what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable touch, as well as instruct them – and have them practice – yelling, “NO!” to the offender.  Children must also be taught to get away from the offender if possible, and to inform a trusted adult about the situation. 

Mrs. Matthews also presents through her book with Fred’s character that children must be taught not to keep the secrets of the offender.  It is good for children to learn not to keep secrets, especially since doing so may be designed by the offender to protect the perpetrator and harm the child. 

Mrs. Matthew’s further shares in her book through Fred that simply because someone may be older or bigger than a child, does not mean they have the right to say or do whatever they want to the child.  Those who are most vulnerable must be the most protected and kept the most safe.

As a licensed professional counselor who works with adolescents and adults, Mrs. Matthews has 15 years of experience in providing therapy to victims and survivors of sexual abuse and assault.  Mrs. Matthews’ book, Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”, is written in easy-to-understand language that is helpful to youngsters about this issue.  Her book is also beautifully and creatively-illustrated with drawings provided by Mrs. Allison Fears, showing Fred the Fox and his family discussing what Fred should do and how he should protect himself from unacceptable touch.

Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!” is a must-read, and an important and useful tool by which to teach children about their right to bodily privacy, what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable touch, and ways in which children can respond and react to those who exploit or attempt to exploit them.  This is a book that should definitely be read in every day care center, every preschool, and every elementary school. 

All children and youth should be educated about how to protect themselves from child sexual assault and abuse.  And, every one of us should be interested in keeping our children and youth safe from sexual predators.  Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!” is an excellent tool by which to achieve this endeavor.

References

Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”.  June 5, 2012.  www.fredthefox.com.

Matthews, T.Y.K. (2010).  Fred the Fox Shouts “NO!”.  Tatiana Y. Kisil Matthews: Charleston, South Carolina.

Parents for Megan’s Law and The Crime Victim’s Center.  June 5, 2012.  http://www.parentsformeganslaw.org/public/statistics_childSexualAbuse.html.

4 thoughts on “Comments on Child Sexual Abuse; and Book Review of “Fred the Fox Shouts ‘NO!'” By Tatiana Matthews (Commentary and Review By Michele Babcock-Nice)

  1. Sadly children often tell but are not heard. I saw one study indicate that a child will disclose 13+ times to an adult before they are even heard. Often times children are in such guarded situations that they cannot possibly break free. For instance parents/mothers/guardians/grandparents are the closest people to the child, and if they allow it to happen, a child knows that they cannot tell because those people will support the offender, and deny that that the child is telling the truth. Often times a parent’s behavior is because of guilt, and they don’t want to appear responsible in some way, when in actuality they are. I think that holding adults responsible for sexual abuse is the key. Laws making it “reckless endangerment of a child” when someone allows inappropriate behavior to/around a child. Parents/guardians/caretakers/grandparents are the biggest problem, because they are a child’s last line of defense, and they are quite obviously failing.

    • As a teacher, I have learned that it takes the average person 7 times to hear something before it truly “sinks in.” So, sadly, I am not surprised about the 13+ times figure that you have shared regarding instances of children telling others of being sexually abused until they are truly “heard.” The way I look at it, children have no reason to lie. Any child with sexual knowledge – particularly very young children and toddlers – should not have such knowledge. So, immediately, red flags are to be raised about what they’re saying. One must ask where they are learning it, what is going on, who are they around, what are they exposed to? As I stated in my blog, one source that I identified shared that only 1% of children’s reports about sexual abuse are false. So, that means to me – and I agree with you that overall, adults are failing children in this regard – that people must be open to understanding and believing what they don’t want to hear, no matter how disturbing or uncomfortable it may be. The victims in these situations – these crimes against them – should not be blamed, as they often are. They must be assisted, and the perpetrators and offenders brought to appropriate justice – not being let go, and not receiving just a slap on the wrist, only to continue their crimes toward other unsuspecting innocents.

  2. Reporters are also blamed, and persecuted. That is deterring reporting as well. Reporters are almost always accused of being crazy, snoopy, on a “witch-hunt”, disturbed, delusional, or on a vendetta, and their own reputations and backgrounds are scrutinized and judged rather than focusing on the offender. Offenders use the legal system to scare people into being silent about their suspicions. Pedophiles/sex offenders often file lawsuits or order’s for protection claiming they are the victim. It is never easy to bring down a child molester. It takes an army, and that is not right.

    • Yes, I agree. The person who reports has no protection from the offender. The offender can come back at them and destroy their reputation, especially if there is little to no “evidence” and/or there are few people – including children – who are able to corroborate what occurred. And, adding to that, those who were assaulted are likely dealing with PTSD or other anxiety-related condition, and that makes it even more difficult for them to accurately report, repeat, and repeat, and repeat over and over again what occurred. After awhile, they may begin leaving out details and/or think that others don’t believe them because they’ve already been required to repeat what they experienced so many times. That’s one bad thing about our democracy – people who are perpetrators and/or offenders are sometimes – and even often – treated better than the victims and/or survivors.

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