Special Envoy Targets Sexual Abuse in New Book
Today, Kim Barrow, the Special Envoy for Women and Children along with the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation launched a children’s book called “My Body is Precious”.
Monica Bodden found out what it’s about at today’s launch.
Hundreds of primary School students from across the city were invited to the Bliss today for the launch of a children’s book entitled "My Body Is Precious". The book is a part of a national public information campaign on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
It is the brainchild of Belize’s First Lady and Special Envoy for Women and Children in collaboration with the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation.
Kim Simplis Barrow - Special Envoy for Women and Children
"It's a project that started like about three years ago. I had asked Starla to work with me to put together a piece of information that will be child friendly and that they children would be able to read easily and that parents would be able to feel comfortable with reading the story to their children. So we started working and putting all the elements together and then we embarked on bringing UNICEF on board and all the different players, getting an administrator and getting the printing company to work with us. It's been work in progress really. It really stems from protecting our children and my passion is children. I really wanted to ensure that we could provide something that these children could read and understand that their body is precious and no one has the right to touch them in a body way or in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. This is what this book is all about."
The book targets children between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. It aims at assisting parents who have a hard time talking about the Sexual Abuse of Children while teaching children what to do if they are touched inappropriately
Starla Bradley Acosta - Co-Author - Director of Community Rehabilitation Department in the Ministry of Human Development
" 'My Body is Precious' is written for children but it's a tool for parents to use to help them to open that communication surrounding that difficult issue of sexual abuse. It's written in simple language for younger children and the distribution is targeting Infant II to Standar II so to about 8 years old. It is something you can read from very early with your child to get used to the information, to get comfortable talking about the issue and it dispels some of the myths. Who are the perpetrators? Who children should go to if they need help? It helps to define a good touch from a bad touch."
Barrow and Acosta hope that the book will ultimately contribute to the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation of children as well as an increase in perpetrators being reported and convicted.
Kim Simplis Barrow
"Sexual abuse is never a subject that parents want to talk about. You feel that if you won't talk about it, it won't happen. That is not true, we are reliving it day after day after day. We're hearing about adults taking advantage of our children and we have to find a way. This is just a step, it is not a cure for all. This book won't stop sexual abuse. It is there to help your children to protect themselves and it's there to help the parents to help themselves to communicate a little bit easier. Communication is important. We need to open lines of communication with our children. If you're comfortable talking to your child then your child will therefore be comfortable talking to you about these issues that are affecting them."
Starla Bradley Acosta
"Just watching the presentation just now was very touching because this project has been in the works for several years. From maybe three years ago, maybe even before I became a member of the Ministry of Human Development. I was asked by CEO Alpuche at the time to partner up with Mrs. Barrow because this was her vision. She wanted to do something as a special envoy for women and children. She wanted to partner to write a book for children about sexual abuse, so I immediately said Yes. Being a social worker I have seen the issues and I have children myself. I don't think that there is anything that is too big for us to breakdown to small pieces to talk to our children about. So immediately I said 'Yes' and we started the process and it took us a little while to actually get the funding to bring it to life but I think the patience has certainly paid off in the sense that we have something that Belize as a country, we can all be very proud of."
The performance will be repeated over three days to reach all students from infant 2 to standard 2 in the Belize District. After that, it will be taken on a countrywide tour.