Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: A Touching Book




A Very Touching Book by Jan Hindman is my favorite sexual abuse prevention book I've found.  Be forewarned, however, that one reviewer on Amazon found it to be pornographic. So, if you don't want your kid to see naked cartoon drawings of various body types (I personally can't imagine why you wouldn't), this book is not for you. I, for one, am all for my daughter realizing that bodies come in all shapes and sizes and that is okay.

Hindman's approach to the subject addresses one of my main concerns about talking to M. about Good Touch, Bad Touch. I was worried that in my attempts to protect her from sexual abuse, I would inadvertently make her feel anxious rather than empowered. Hindman's approach is so wonderfully positive and mixed with humor that I now feel completely comfortable protecting my daughter without causing undue worry.

Hindman's approach differs from more traditional approaches in two main ways. First of all, she takes the time to explain to children WHY we keep our special parts private: "Remember, we don't cover those parts because they are silly or ugly or nasty. We cover them because they are special." She also says that the special parts are wonderful, and that adults spend a lot of time deciding what one person to share them with. I just love the idea of teaching children that their private parts are wonderful and special; rather than just telling them to keep them covered.

The other way Hindman's approach is different is that she talks about Good Touch, Bad Touch and Secret Touch. Her point (and I agree) is that sexual abuse doesn't necessarily feel bad so kids may be confused. Secret Touch is less ambigous because there is never a reason for there to be Secret Touching with children. She then goes into 3 positive examples of when touching of the special parts is okay and not secret (i.e. doctor's, and changing diapers).

Unfortunately, this book is not perfect. There were a few things I didn't like. First of all, and this isn't really a negative--this book is very wordy and therefore not appropriate for toddlers. This only frustrates me because even though I am planning to buy this book, I still have to keep looking for one appropriate for younger children. Also, Hindman refers to adults doing the secret touching but really kids are likely to be abused by other children as well. I wish she would have used a broader description. Finally, I was a little uncomfortable with the final example of okay secret touching. This example describes a Grandpa taking a shower with a child and helping him clean his special parts. I am very sure in most cases this is a perfectly okay scenario but I also know that it can be a risky place for sexual abuse. I think I would still use the example but explain more clearly to my child when something like this would be appropriate.