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.

Book Review of “Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction” by Dr. Mic Hunter (Review by Michele Babcock-Nice)

Book Review of

Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction

by Mic Hunter

(Review by Michele Babcock-Nice)

 

Dr. Mic Hunter has a wealth of knowledge and experience in psychologically-treating individuals who have experienced sexual trauma, sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, and addictions.  He believes in the positive influence and effects of people practicing The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as adapting them to psychologically-based issues in addition to alcoholism. 

In his book, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction, Dr. Hunter has again applied The Twelve Steps, as well as many valuable, beneficial, and thoughtful workbook-style questions in the treatment and recognition of family sexual dysfunction and individual sexual dysfunction as a result of the former.  Dr. Hunter identifies and describes family sexual dysfunction, including many different styles and characteristics of it that are helpful for readers to know, understand, and reflect upon. 

Dr. Hunter goes further by identifying and describing adult child issues related to family sexual dysfunction, unhealthy and healthy aspects of adult sexuality, and applying The Twelve Steps to family sexual dysfunction – as an individual – as a method of recovery.  He not only identifies The Twelve Steps for use in conjunction with recovery from family sexual dysfunction, but also describes how they apply to recovery and provides personalized workbook questions for individuals to answer in an effort to identify, recognize, contemplate, and recover from past sexually dysfunctional experiences.

Dysfunction prevents the fulfillment of needs in a reasonable manner, and may include extremes of behavior.  This also applies to families.  In a sexually dysfunction family, there are attitudes, behaviors, or other interactions and communications that have a negative affect on the family members’ sexuality (p. 1).  Rather than enjoying sexuality, “they end up being hurt by” it (p. 1). 

Dr. Hunter identifies and describes “three basic extremes [that] are common in sexually dysfunction families: the overvaluation of sex, negative attitudes about sex, and sexual shutdown” (p. 2).  In families that overvalue sex, “sex is the most important thing in life” (p. 2).  People in such families have “sexuality as the predominant focus of most interactions,”  and “they sexualize their emotions” (p. 2). 

In sex-negative families, “sex is something to be feared, because it is seen to be dangerous, perhaps even evil” (p. 4).  Dr. Hunter shares that such families may “enforce rigid rules about sexual behavior,” and when a person violates those rules, he or she feels unworthy and ashamed (p. 4).  In the sexually shut-down family, “there is a nearly phobic response” to sex (p. 5).  People in such families are hard at work in repressing their sexuality, ignoring children’s sexual development, and pretending not to notice sexual develop changes (p. 5).  There are also families that combine the dysfunctional styles.

Members of the adult self-help group, Adult Children of Sexual Dysfunction (ACSD), identified ten main characteristics related to family sexual dysfunction when they were young, such characteristics affecting their behavior.  Some of these characteristics include experiencing confusion or shame about sexuality, a lack of healthy or nourishing touch, and the experience of difficulty in establishing relationships that are intimate (p. 8). 

Dr. Hunter goes on to identify, describe, and discuss each of the ten characteristics pinpointed by ACSD and provide his helpful, reflective workbook questions that personally assist individual readers in remembering and recognizing past sexual attitudes and/or experiences within their families.  A few of Dr. Hunter’s questions in relation to these described characteristics include: “When you think about the other gender, how do you feel?” (p. 24); “How do you react now to being touched by others?” (p. 37); and “What relationship patterns have you noticed in your life” (p. 47). 

Importantly in regard to the tenth characteristic of confusing sex with emotions, Dr. Hunter identifies and describes different types of intimacy, including physical, sexual, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  One of the results of the tenth characteristic may be that people “sometimes leave groups or end friendships when they start to grow close” (p. 71).  Also, those who sexually abuse children may misunderstand sexuality and sexual boundaries by stating that they are being intimate with the children (p. 71). 

Dr. Hunter states that “perhaps the most destructive consequence of living as a child in a sexually dysfunctional family is the development of a shame-based identity” (p. 73).  Even when the child grows into adulthood, he or she continues to be ashamed.  Such identities stem from relationships that are abusive or neglectful (p. 73).  In order to heal from the affects of such experiences, Dr. Hunter states that “safe, nurturing person-to-person interaction” is required (p. 73).

Following this, Dr. Hunter introduces The Twelve Steps as a guide for recovery from family sexual dysfunction.  He identifies and describes each of the Steps, as well as associating his helpful workbook-style questions with them.  For examples, in the area of powerlessness, Dr. Hunter asks the reader if he or she could obtain nourishing touch as a child (p. 81).  In relation to admitting our defects, Dr. Hunter asks the reader to write a list of his or her character defects and to give examples (p 109).  Regarding the experience of a spiritual awakening, Dr. Hunter asks what the reader understands about his or her past, and it’s effect on one’s present lifestyle and experiences (p. 129).

I recommend Dr. Hunter’s book, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction, to those readers who are interested in discovering and healing from their past that may include sexual dysfunction, individual sexual dysfunction, and/or family sexual dysfunction.  I also recommend Dr. Hunter’s book for reading by anyone who desires to increase their knowledge about the impact, influence, and effects of general attitudes and behaviors about sex. 

For the person who is seeking to recover and heal from past sexually dysfunctional experiences, Dr. Hunter’s book is a treasure trove of understanding, knowledge, examples, questions, insights, and suggestions for recovery regarding it.  For the reader who may simply be interested in increasing his or her knowledge related to sexuality, Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction is a valuable work on understanding different attitudes, interactions, communications, and behaviors regarding it. 

Therefore, again, Dr. Hunter has tackled an issue that likely causes discomfort and pain for many, though he also provides the power of healing psychological understanding, insight, and recovery to it.  This is another of Dr. Hunter’s valuable books on issues related to sex and sexuality, and how readers can increase their enjoyment of sex by working through past experiences that may have been negative or dysfunctional.

Please Note: New copies of this book are available for $5.00 each by directly contacting the author at: Dr. Mic Hunter, 357 Kellogg Boulevard East, St. Paul, Minnesota 55101.

Reviewer’s Note: Quoted material is included in this review with permission by Dr. Mic Hunter.

Source

Hunter, M. (1992).  Joyous Sexuality: Healing from the Effects of Family Sexual Dysfunction.  Minneapolis, Minnesota: CompCare Publishers.

Book Review of “The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work” by Randy Hain (Review by: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Book Review of

The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work

By Randy Hain

(Review by: Michele Babcock-Nice)

March 13, 2012

What's in your Catholic briefcase? (Used with author's permission)

In his book, The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work, Randy Hain gives numerous examples of how Catholics can and should both live and include their Catholic faith in their everyday lives, particularly while at work and in working with others.  Hain lists and shares many “how to” ideas and ways in his book on how to accomplish this. 

Throughout his book, Hain also identifies Catholic role models and colleagues in his life who are an inspiration for living their Catholic faith, daily, at work and in their everyday lives.  Several interviews with these individuals are shared in The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work so that we, the readers, may more fully appreciate and understand ways that we, too, may more fully live our Catholic faith at work.

Hain begins his book introduction with presenting about “making the transition from a compartmentalized life in which I had no faith and kept everything distinctly separate to an integrated life with Christ at the center” (p. xvii).  Hain states that making the transition was daunting for him, as it may be for many.  At work, some of the reasons in which people may compartmentalize their faith include “political sensitivity, rigid company policies, and simple fear” (p. xvii). 

In being fully honest with himself and realizing that there were areas in his faith and religious life that could be improved in his relationship with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, Hain opened himself up to greater communion with God and his faith.  No doubt, as described throughout his book, Hain has felt and gained countless benefits from letting go of his former self so that a new self could be reborn with increased spirituality and trust in God. 

Hain writes of being a convert to Catholicism in 2005.  He states that he sincerely committed himself to placing Jesus Christ at the forefront of every aspect of his life.  He committed himself to living a life with Jesus at the center, as well as integrating faith, family, and work together (p. xix).  He goes on to share that Catholics have many opportunities throughout each day to positively influence others, thereby “standing out” in our faith and faith journey in example to others. 

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Jesus died so we may live.

It is, indeed, refreshing to read Hain’s thoughts, ideas, and beliefs regarding his Catholic faith and faith journey as a positive example to others.  In converting to Catholicism and truly living the Catholic faith, as well as being a role model for others in his faith, Hain has set an excellent example for others in his commitment to leading a more fully-integrated faith and spiritual life in his work and everyday activities.  Hain challenged himself to highly-raise the bar in his pursuit of excellence regarding the integration of his faith into his work and daily life.  

The author writes of remembering to view others in a Christ-like manner, to recall that each of us is modelled after Jesus and has wonderful qualities in our humanity.  Hain further reminds us that we must be persistent and dedicated in fulfilling our ministries – including all sorts of ministries, such as being married, being single, being a parent, being employed, being a leader, etc.  He also identifies that there are many ways in which people excuse their lack of action in integrating our faith and work, and he provides well-explained ideas for actually integrating faith and work.

One of Hain’s statements that really spoke to me is, “It is almost as if we have developed barriers around our hearts that keep the world at an emotional distance” (p.10).  And, three major obstacles to trustfully surrendering to God, Hain identifies as “pride, fear, and excuses” (p. 10).  This is all something that I can reflect on and view in my own life.  Why don’t I profess my faith more openly to others?  Am I afraid of getting hurt, being rejected, being criticized or ridiculed?  I believe that my answer is, “Yes, I am afraid.” 

There are so many experiences in our lives of continually being rejected that it is easy for people to lose hope.  Taking a risk in sharing one’s faith, beliefs, and values is just another one of those areas of potential pain and rejection, so for me, Hain’s statement about emotional barriers being placed around our hearts is really done as a matter of self-protection, though it may end up being a way of distancing ourselves from others.  Hain writes that we must trustfully surrender to Jesus and God that we will be provided with the strength to be successful in our endeavors, both at work and in life.

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Remember to pray the Rosary

Hain further shares that it is important for us to take time to think and pray, so that we can more fully be in tune with God’s will for us.  Hain encourages us to schedule time into our day to pray, to be “gadget free,” to surround ourselves with positive, like-minded people, to live more simply, and to refuse to give in to compulsions (pp. 23-25).  He further suggests to us that we thank God, ask for God’s forgiveness, request God’s help and guidance, and to totally unburden ourselves to God (pp. 31-32). 

Hain also lists and describes many more ways that we can be in tune with God through our thoughts, prayers, and actions.  Also very importantly – and another of Hain’s statements that spoke to me – is that we must “pray with our children every night” (p. 36).  I had realized that, in the everyday stresses and worries of living, I had gotten away from doing that with my own child – saying daily prayers and making holy requests of God with my child.  I have been positively reminded by Hain in his book to “just do it” (p. 36).  It is refreshing, rejuvenating, and comforting to pray to God; what better way to pray than to pray with others, especially those children and/or family members whom we most love in our lives.

In Hain’s chapter five of his book, he addresses the issue of being personal with colleagues at work.  He asks if we have the rapport and trust that is needed to provide comfortable discussions about personal issues that are serious at work (p. 39).  In my work and personal life, this is something that I have never had an issue with, and in fact, is something about which I find many, many people have discomfort.  Not only do most people appear to be uncomfortable speaking about serious personal issues at work, they do not want to hear or engage with others in talking about such concerns. 

In my life experiences, I have found that it is truly the extremely rare individual who can share about serious personal issues, as well as who can listen to and provide support and guidance about said concerns.  Because many people are unwilling or unable to open up about serious personal issues at work, this just becomes another way of distinguishing and dividing out what topics are acceptable for discussion in the workplace.  

Concern about hurtful gossip and of issues shared in confidence being distorted by others are reasons that many people limit their interpersonal relations and communications with colleagues at work, in my experience.  Then, the workplace can become a very hurtful and damaging place to be.  With Hain reminding us in his book that we ought to develop relationships with others that are trusting enough to share serious personal issues, we are reminded that we are all human and that we all share serious issues in our lives that are in need of others’ support and attention.

An additional topic that Hain identified in his book that touched me is, “we often don’t know the people in our community or our workplace who need our help” (p. 42).  Hain recognized that people may often behave in a superficial manner to each other, simply asking how they are doing, but not really caring to do anything about it or recognize how they are truly doing.  This has also been an issue of mine in the past few years since I am an individual who is in need. 

In the past one year, I shared about my need with a volunteer worker of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, who was very helpful to me and my family, and one of her statements to me was that I didn’t “look like” a person in need.  One can maintain a good appearance, be reasonably healthy and happy, but still be in need – it is important for people to recognize that and take it seriously rather than overlook, ignore, or deny it because the need only increases when people behave in such ways.  Therefore, Hain’s statement of truly recognizing and supporting those in need is incredibly important.

Hain addresses stewardship in his book, describing ways that he and others “give back” to the church and/or community.  He is involved in several activities in which he gives back to his church, parish, employer, and community.  This is also something to which I can relate because I also give back in regularly and happily volunteering at my child’s Catholic school (for the past four years now), as well as with being an active, assistant leader my child’s scout pack through our local church.  It is very important to return one’s talents, time, and/or treasures to one’s family, church, community, organization, and/or workplace.  It is a healthy thing to do, and it is something that God seeks in us.

Bible & Rosary

Two tools for success

Hain further calls us to lead by example, and to always make the best – or better – decisions.  Hain also acknowledges that, through our humanity, we do make mistakes, however when we make errors, we must learn from them and do better in the future.  Hain states, “Christ…always taught the truth, regardless of the audience or his surroundings” (p. 60).  We must pray and make a concerted effort to also lead our lives in a moral, ethical, and spiritual manner that places goodness and truth above lies, falsehoods, and deceitfulness.

Hain encourages us to be better-connected Catholics.  He reflects that there are many ways of doing this in the workplace – through sharing a meal with a colleague and saying a blessing before the meal, by listening to and truly “hearing” what colleagues have to say, by becoming active on networking websites and/or creating one’s own website, attending and participating in seminars or workshops, and more.  In our places of work, it is important to integrate our faith with what we do everyday; it provides a good example to others and it promotes a healthier, more spiritually-integrated lifestyle.

Something that I believe with which many people struggle in their everyday work lives is becoming overly successful in our work, a topic that is also addressed by Hain in his book (p. 93).  For those people who are single or who are married but do not have children – speaking from personal experience – it is all too easy to become overly devoted to one’s work…because that is what is often demanded of us from our employers, in order to be successful. 

Also, for those who have families, such as myself, it is vitally important for people to remember that quality time with family is significant, as is bringing home the bacon.  For those of us who are not formally employed, it is important to become involved in or create activities that balance family with our activities and/or interests.

Hain provides this and so much more in his book, The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work.  Hain’s personal examples, intimate witness to God, powerful conversion to Catholicism, strong commitment to his faith and doing good works, and seeing Jesus in others are all extremely meaningful qualities of this author that will speak to any reader, of any faith, in any workplace.  Hain does his best to personally live the words that he has written in his book. 

Hain recognizes that by opening up to God’s will and surrendering himself to fully trust in God’s plan for him, that he will greatly-reap the benefits of doing so in his life, including in his work life.  Hain reminds us that we are called to lead holy lives, that we must be a light for Christ, and that we are made for heaven (pp. 110, 112).  In reading Hain’s book, we are fully informed of that through his careful, thoughtful, and spiritual insights, ideas, interviews, and wisdom.

*Reviewer’s Note: All quotes and photo of book cover used with approval and permission of the author.

Source

Hain, R. (2011).  The Catholic Briefcase: Tools for Integrating Faith and Work.  Liguori, Missouri: Liguori Publications.