I want to believe most parents and/or caregivers discuss body boundaries and what’s appropriate and what’s not, with their children regularly. But if you don’t, or haven’t, or just glossed over it while at the doctors office, this book is a great discussion starter and road map. The author comes from a place of educational and personal experience and the 33 page book tells a story that children can read independently with a discussion guide for parents to follow at the end. Even if you don’t feel comfortable letting your children read the story independently or with you, there is a page depicting male and female private parts, I still think the book is a way for adults to face their own squeamishness of discussing it, and get ideas of how to present to their children. Being nervous or uncomfortable is not an excuse to not discuss sexual abuse against children with our children. For their voice to be their super power, we must first be willing to use ours to open the subject with them, educate them, and empower them. Abuse happens in every culture, religion, socio economic bracket, period, to think differently is naive and dangerous.
Nine-year-old Buddy is heading to his cousins’ house for a sleepover, but before heading out, he addresses the readers to make sure they know the body safety rules and to make sure his super power, his voice, is ready. His voice is what he can use if he feels unsafe, or to help his friends if they feel unsafe. He can say “Stop” or “No” if someone breaks one of the Body Safety Rules.
His mom, a muhajaba, has being teaching him since he was three to use his voice to let people know his body belongs to him. He knows he can say no when he doesn’t want to hug or kiss or touch someone, even if they are a family member.
The book then talks about body parts that everyone can see and labels them with a diagram before explaining private parts and labeling them as well. The book also discussing using the proper names, not nicknames or “cute” names, such as hotdog and cookie, to describe anatomy and body parts.
If someone breaches or doesn’t listen to the “No” or “Stop” the book encourages everyone have a safety circle of adults you trust and like and that you feel safe and comfortable talking to. It also mentions that if one person doesn’t listen or believe you to go to another person in the circle until someone does.
Another rule is No Secrets, and the book explains the difference between a secret and a surprise, which does eventually get told.
When Buddy gets to his cousins house, the kids play and have fun, when a friend of the aunt’s stops by and gives only Keisha a treat before leaving. When Buddy asks about the friend, his cousin talks about how they play pretend and tickle and how they have a secret touch game. Buddy explains the rules to his cousin and then goes with her to help her talk to her mom about the breaking of Body Safety Rules.
The story ends with the mom calling “people” to take the friend away and the kids feeling empowered that they kept their bodies safe.
The Activity Guide for Adults gives information for each of the pages in the story to help the adult understand why that part of the story is included (i.e. grooming, disclosure, etc.) and activities to ensure understanding and mastery.
The book is not religion specific, and would be a great benefit to all children, everywhere with parental involvement and dialogue.
May Allah swt keep all our children safe, ameen.