Monthly Archives: June 2013

A Safe Place: Finding Resources

By Audrey Lintner

When someone we know is in an accident or becomes ill, we spring into action. Offers of food, support, and sympathy come from every direction; it is in our nature to nurture those who fall prey to life’s harsh side. For some reason, when we learn that a person is a victim of abuse, a darker facet often takes over.
Blame. Judgment. The victim is peppered with questions. “Why did you let it happen? Why didn’t you see it coming?” Worst of all, “What did you do to cause it?”
Reactions like these compound the already considerable damage done to the psyches of abuse victims. Fortunately, these reactions are not universal, or even close to it. For every negative response, there are dozens of positive, supportive gestures. And for every victim, there is help.
The National Children’s Alliance offers information about, and links to, advocacy services designed to aid victims of child abuse. Founded in 1987, the NCA provides local support for investigations and interventions, and provides services to more than 750 children’s advocacy centers across the nation.
To facilitate matches between those in need and those who provide, the NCA has compiled a list of resources available to parents, children, and caregivers whose lives are shadowed by abuse. This list includes well-known organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, but it also provides links to lesser-known but equally vital services such as Hope Shining and First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center.
In addition to the services available for children, the NCA offers links to parent services. Parenthood is a joy, but it sometimes comes with overwhelming stress. Before that stress reaches a critical point, parents and caregivers are encouraged to contact places such as the National Parent Helpline. Adults who were abused as children can have a very difficult time breaking the cycle; it doesn’t have to be impossible, and it doesn’t have to be done alone.
Joy shared is joy multiplied; sorrow shared is a burden made lighter. If your family has been touched by abuse, please seek help. No one deserves to be abused, but every victim deserves to survive, thrive, and heal.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE

National Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
1-800-656-HOPE
San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center- 24 hour Talk Line 
1-415-441-KIDS
Forget Me Not Farm Children’s Services
Little Pickle Press has some free resources available for download!

You can download a copy of our Top 10 Rules to Keep Your Children Safe

A Safe Place: Finding Resources

By Audrey Lintner

When someone we know is in an accident or becomes ill, we spring into action. Offers of food, support, and sympathy come from every direction; it is in our nature to nurture those who fall prey to life’s harsh side. For some reason, when we learn that a person is a victim of abuse, a darker facet often takes over.
Blame. Judgment. The victim is peppered with questions. “Why did you let it happen? Why didn’t you see it coming?” Worst of all, “What did you do to cause it?”
Reactions like these compound the already considerable damage done to the psyches of abuse victims. Fortunately, these reactions are not universal, or even close to it. For every negative response, there are dozens of positive, supportive gestures. And for every victim, there is help.
The National Children’s Alliance offers information about, and links to, advocacy services designed to aid victims of child abuse. Founded in 1987, the NCA provides local support for investigations and interventions, and provides services to more than 750 children’s advocacy centers across the nation.
To facilitate matches between those in need and those who provide, the NCA has compiled a list of resources available to parents, children, and caregivers whose lives are shadowed by abuse. This list includes well-known organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, but it also provides links to lesser-known but equally vital services such as Hope Shining and First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center.
In addition to the services available for children, the NCA offers links to parent services. Parenthood is a joy, but it sometimes comes with overwhelming stress. Before that stress reaches a critical point, parents and caregivers are encouraged to contact places such as the National Parent Helpline. Adults who were abused as children can have a very difficult time breaking the cycle; it doesn’t have to be impossible, and it doesn’t have to be done alone.
Joy shared is joy multiplied; sorrow shared is a burden made lighter. If your family has been touched by abuse, please seek help. No one deserves to be abused, but every victim deserves to survive, thrive, and heal.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
1-800-799-SAFE

National Child Abuse Hotline
1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
RAINN – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
1-800-656-HOPE
San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center- 24 hour Talk Line 
1-415-441-KIDS
Forget Me Not Farm Children’s Services
Little Pickle Press has some free resources available for download!

You can download a copy of our Top 10 Rules to Keep Your Children Safe
You can also download a copy of our 5 Principles for Children to Counter Possible Deception

Teaching Children to Trust Their Intuition

By Damon O’Hanlon

Image Credit: thekaratekids.org
As a karate instructor, parents often come to me for help protecting their children. Many aren’t sure exactly what “self-defense for kids” should entail, and I could probably get away with spending the day teaching only chops and kicks. But the odds of a child needing to physically fight for their life are low. Other types of danger are more pressing, not least among which is the specter of child sexual abuse.
Now, when the topic of child sexual abuse comes up, I usually hear questions which point to a certain type of prevention. “How can we better screen the people who will be working with our kids?” and “How can we more strictly punish the predators in our community?” are two common examples.

While I would never call such avenues fruitless, over the years I’ve come to question whether they’re really the best starting place. As caretakers, it’s tempting to think we can mold a perfectly safe environment for children without the need to “scare kids” by involving them directly. We also tend to view our kids as utterly helpless in these situations.

While children are indeed more vulnerable than adults and may not know what to do in a situation like this, there are certain things we can teach them that will help them to protect themselves. The best tool, one I have been teaching in my karate program for years, is honing and learning to trust personal intuition. Here are five key insights to help you get started with your own kids.

Explain what intuition is.

Kids may never have heard the word before, but don’t overcomplicate it. For the purposes of your conversation, intuition is a feeling you get about a person, place, or situation that you can’t quite explain. One of most important things your intuition does is warn you about danger and help protect you from it.

Don’t hand kids the answers. Challenge kids to think hard.

As caring parents and educators, it’s only natural that we want to hand our children our wisdom, all neat and prepackaged. However, studies indicate that deep and lasting learning comes from cognitive engagement where the learner puzzles through things a bit. Instead of telling kids what to do, talk about and role play through various scenarios, asking questions and helping kids to recognize successful vs unsuccessful strategies.

Always trust your intuition, even if it’s only a whisper.

This is often phrased as, “If in doubt – get out.” Help your kids understand that, when intuition nudges, the sooner they take action, the better they protect themselves.

Don’t fall for the red herring of focusing on strangers.

I’ve been teaching karate since I was seventeen, and been in many martial arts schools where ‘stranger danger’ was handled as a substantial consideration. While admittedly terrorizing for parents to contemplate, the scenario of a stranger who abducts and sexually abuses a child is so rare that it’s a borderline myth. (The truth is that most sexual abuses are perpetrated by someone the child knows.)

Yet the stranger abduction scenario often gets the spotlight. A person might argue, “Well, it could happen, and it would be pretty awful, so doesn’t it deserve our attention?”

In response let me say this: Imagine that you and I were out in a forest, and I said to you, ‘We don’t have any food! This is very dangerous, potentially dire.’ Sounds reasonable, so you would probably agree, and the issue would seem worthy of our attention. But what if, in fact, the forest around us were on fire?

The point here is that identifying and obsessing over unlikely threats ultimately hinders our ability to address more realistic threats.

Your child’s intuition takes precedence over other peoples’ feelings.

The world can be a tough place for kids. There are a ton of people about, many of whom are much bigger than kids, and it takes practice to navigate these complex social waters. As a result, kids spend a lot of their time learning to appease the people around them.

But these considerations cannot be allowed to compete with our intuition, and here’s a kid-accessible explanation for why: Let’s say your kid is with a friend, and that friend says, “Hey! Let’s jump off this really high building.” Their intuition tells them that’s unsafe, so they decide to leave. Then later, the friend’s feelings are hurt and they ask, “Why’d you leave? That was just a joke.”

Can your kid say ‘I’m sorry’ and help to mend someone’s hurt feelings? Absolutely. But what if they had stayed, and something bad did end up happening. Does saying ‘I’m sorry’ undo the bad thing that happened? No.

To reinforce this, my old karate instructor used a wonderfully simple mantra, “My safety first, their feelings second.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shidōin Damon O’Hanlon began martial arts as part of a high school senior project. He became an assistant instructor, and then a program director, before finally receiving his head instructor certification in 2008. In 2010 and 2011, Damon earned two additional honors – a 2nd degree black belt and a degree in psychological anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz.

Damon now teaches at the Koshozen Martial Institute, a martial arts school partnered with the Santa Cruz Boys & Girls Club. Together, Damon and his mom, Karen, began Mind Like Child in order to share their combined knowledge and expertise about children.

Teaching Children to Trust Their Intuition

By Damon O’Hanlon

Image Credit: thekaratekids.org
As a karate instructor, parents often come to me for help protecting their children. Many aren’t sure exactly what “self-defense for kids” should entail, and I could probably get away with spending the day teaching only chops and kicks. But the odds of a child needing to physically fight for their life are low. Other types of danger are more pressing, not least among which is the specter of child sexual abuse.
Now, when the topic of child sexual abuse comes up, I usually hear questions which point to a certain type of prevention. “How can we better screen the people who will be working with our kids?” and “How can we more strictly punish the predators in our community?” are two common examples.

While I would never call such avenues fruitless, over the years I’ve come to question whether they’re really the best starting place. As caretakers, it’s tempting to think we can mold a perfectly safe environment for children without the need to “scare kids” by involving them directly. We also tend to view our kids as utterly helpless in these situations.

While children are indeed more vulnerable than adults and may not know what to do in a situation like this, there are certain things we can teach them that will help them to protect themselves. The best tool, one I have been teaching in my karate program for years, is honing and learning to trust personal intuition. Here are five key insights to help you get started with your own kids.

Explain what intuition is.

Kids may never have heard the word before, but don’t overcomplicate it. For the purposes of your conversation, intuition is a feeling you get about a person, place, or situation that you can’t quite explain. One of most important things your intuition does is warn you about danger and help protect you from it.

Don’t hand kids the answers. Challenge kids to think hard.

As caring parents and educators, it’s only natural that we want to hand our children our wisdom, all neat and prepackaged. However, studies indicate that deep and lasting learning comes from cognitive engagement where the learner puzzles through things a bit. Instead of telling kids what to do, talk about and role play through various scenarios, asking questions and helping kids to recognize successful vs unsuccessful strategies.

Always trust your intuition, even if it’s only a whisper.

This is often phrased as, “If in doubt – get out.” Help your kids understand that, when intuition nudges, the sooner they take action, the better they protect themselves.

Don’t fall for the red herring of focusing on strangers.

I’ve been teaching karate since I was seventeen, and been in many martial arts schools where ‘stranger danger’ was handled as a substantial consideration. While admittedly terrorizing for parents to contemplate, the scenario of a stranger who abducts and sexually abuses a child is so rare that it’s a borderline myth. (The truth is that most sexual abuses are perpetrated by someone the child knows.)

Yet the stranger abduction scenario often gets the spotlight. A person might argue, “Well, it could happen, and it would be pretty awful, so doesn’t it deserve our attention?”

In response let me say this: Imagine that you and I were out in a forest, and I said to you, ‘We don’t have any food! This is very dangerous, potentially dire.’ Sounds reasonable, so you would probably agree, and the issue would seem worthy of our attention. But what if, in fact, the forest around us were on fire?

The point here is that identifying and obsessing over unlikely threats ultimately hinders our ability to address more realistic threats.

Your child’s intuition takes precedence over other peoples’ feelings.

The world can be a tough place for kids. There are a ton of people about, many of whom are much bigger than kids, and it takes practice to navigate these complex social waters. As a result, kids spend a lot of their time learning to appease the people around them.

But these considerations cannot be allowed to compete with our intuition, and here’s a kid-accessible explanation for why: Let’s say your kid is with a friend, and that friend says, “Hey! Let’s jump off this really high building.” Their intuition tells them that’s unsafe, so they decide to leave. Then later, the friend’s feelings are hurt and they ask, “Why’d you leave? That was just a joke.”

Can your kid say ‘I’m sorry’ and help to mend someone’s hurt feelings? Absolutely. But what if they had stayed, and something bad did end up happening. Does saying ‘I’m sorry’ undo the bad thing that happened? No.

To reinforce this, my old karate instructor used a wonderfully simple mantra, “My safety first, their feelings second.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Shidōin Damon O’Hanlon began martial arts as part of a high school senior project. He became an assistant instructor, and then a program director, before finally receiving his head instructor certification in 2008. In 2010 and 2011, Damon earned two additional honors – a 2nd degree black belt and a degree in psychological anthropology from the University of California Santa Cruz.

Damon now teaches at the Koshozen Martial Institute, a martial arts school partnered with the Santa Cruz Boys & Girls Club. Together, Damon and his mom, Karen, began Mind Like Child in order to share their combined knowledge and expertise about children.

Speaking Out About Sexual Abuse: A Case Study

By Kelly Wickham

Horace Mann School, New York, Image Credit: myfoxdetriot.com

Within the typical school setting, students are expected to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. When I attended a private Catholic school in the late 1970s, I learned two additional things:

  • To fear the nuns because they had the authority to hit you as punishment.
  • To navigate the dangerous system in which teachers and adults used threats and fear tactics in place of teaching students to love learning.

Actually, I learned three. The third would be that I learned how I learned, an important distinction for someone who would later attend college to become a teacher by trade.

When I consider all of these things I’ve learned and how my role as an administrator of a school means that I have become a mandated reporter, I am all the more distraught by stories like the Horace Mann School abuse that went on for decades. In March of this year the school reached settlements with some 27 alumni who claim they had been abused over the years.
The Horace Mann School, located in the Bronx, is an Ivy Preparatory School League place where their motto is Magna est veritas et praevalet which translates to Great is the truth and it prevails. Sadly ironic once you learn about the sexual abuse of children of which is has been consistently accused over the years and when you consider the lazy response of a system that is supposed to keep children safe while educating them. Amos Kamil broke the story in a New York Times magazine piece where he wrote the lengthy story back in June of last year.

It’s emotionally disastrous for the victims to hear the litany of testimonials from former students as to what great teachers they had. All that greatness is negated when those teachers violate the trust and sexual boundaries of their students.


Image credit: Graham Morrison/Bloomberg, newsfeed.time.com
Power, authority, reverence are used as a means to gain something.

There is a nonchalance to the stories told of Horace Mann School, a callousness that goes against the very grain of their school motto. Students and teachers are part of a system in which the dynamic is set and there are clearly defined power roles where the adult dominates the narrative and tone of the “trust” placed in their control. In the aftermath of breaking the story, the accused seem pathologically selfish in both their culpability and their embracing of the laws that put limits on when they can be accused.

Violation and distrust aren’t feelings that occur normally when teens and youth begin to explore their sexuality in relationships with others.

The response to the allegations and the lengthy piece by Amos Kamil makes the stories of abuse all the more astounding. Former students and Horace Mann graduates are at once both troubled by the allegations and supportive of their school. The violation due to broken trust of an adult is bad enough, but when relationships are strained and the loyal alumi are dismissive in nature toward the victims, then where exactly do victims go who have experienced similar crimes and what response can they expect?

It’s important, then, for us to see how predators work because they are valuable lessons for parents and child advocates who are able to see the very pitfalls into which many abuse victims will fall. In one of the many stories about the abuse at Horace Mann School, one of the teachers, Mr. Berman, is described as eccentric and charismatic. He champions genius so, in the classroom, he sets the bar impossibly high. His elitism is so prevalent that students work very hard to please him, failing constantly. When a student finally reached the unfeasible and made an intelligent comment or connection to the class, Mr. Berman would heap praise on them. Any child who tried that hard to please a teacher would, of course, accept the offer to visit the teacher’s home, drink alcohol (illegally, of course) and that’s where the danger beings. Marc Fisher writes about this incident in a New Yorker piece that details the bait-and-switch that occurred in how a teacher breaks the trust of his innocent students.

It appears that there is a sense of nostalgia that is holding people back from being upset by the numerous inappropriate instances of rape that went on at Horace Mann School. The other disturbing theme is the abhorrent victim-blaming that happened once the stories of abuse came to light. It’s worth noting that none of the victims want to be identified by name because everyone uses initials and the more you dig into this specific case the more you realize that there are very strong secrets in this school.

Tek Young Lin, one of the teachers, admitted to having sex with “maybe 3” of his students and told a New York Times reporter that “no coercion had been used”. In that piece Lin is quoted as saying, “Everything I did was in warmth and affection and not a power play.”

Humiliation and shame keeps victims from speaking about unspeakable acts committed upon them.

Lin describes the abuse as “warm and affectionate,” but Jerry Sandusky did the same thing, describing the showers he took with his players as “horsing around”.


It’s typical of abusers to make light of the damage that they are inflicting upon their victims.

“Thomas M. Kelly, the head of the school, declined to comment directly on Mr. Lin’s statements, but a spokesman for the school’s public relations firm said: ‘If what Mr. Lin has told The New York Times is true, the conduct in which he says he engaged was appalling. We urge him to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.’ Mr. Lin said no authorities had contacted him.” 

Being a light in the darkness.

It is impossible to say which is harder, being a victim of abuse, or stepping forward to share your story. Both are painful, frightening experiences, but only one can be looked upon as potentially cleansing. Those who come forward are sometimes viewed as sensationalists, attention seekers who provide scandal in exchange for recognition. The truth is, they are members of a spiritual cleaning crew, shining sunlight into oppressive corners.

If you know of such a story, or have one of your own, consider speaking out. Besides the healing and closure that each of us needs in such cases, there is the chance for prevention. If even one child is saved from the horrors of abuse, the pain of stepping forward becomes worthwhile. Great is the truth, right?

Speaking Out About Sexual Abuse: A Case Study

By Kelly Wickham

Horace Mann School, New York, Image Credit: myfoxdetriot.com

Within the typical school setting, students are expected to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic. When I attended a private Catholic school in the late 1970s, I learned two additional things:

  • To fear the nuns because they had the authority to hit you as punishment.
  • To navigate the dangerous system in which teachers and adults used threats and fear tactics in place of teaching students to love learning.

Actually, I learned three. The third would be that I learned how I learned, an important distinction for someone who would later attend college to become a teacher by trade.

When I consider all of these things I’ve learned and how my role as an administrator of a school means that I have become a mandated reporter, I am all the more distraught by stories like the Horace Mann School abuse that went on for decades. In March of this year the school reached settlements with some 27 alumni who claim they had been abused over the years.
The Horace Mann School, located in the Bronx, is an Ivy Preparatory School League place where their motto is Magna est veritas et praevalet which translates to Great is the truth and it prevails. Sadly ironic once you learn about the sexual abuse of children of which is has been consistently accused over the years and when you consider the lazy response of a system that is supposed to keep children safe while educating them. Amos Kamil broke the story in a New York Times magazine piece where he wrote the lengthy story back in June of last year.

It’s emotionally disastrous for the victims to hear the litany of testimonials from former students as to what great teachers they had. All that greatness is negated when those teachers violate the trust and sexual boundaries of their students.


Image credit: Graham Morrison/Bloomberg, newsfeed.time.com
Power, authority, reverence are used as a means to gain something.

There is a nonchalance to the stories told of Horace Mann School, a callousness that goes against the very grain of their school motto. Students and teachers are part of a system in which the dynamic is set and there are clearly defined power roles where the adult dominates the narrative and tone of the “trust” placed in their control. In the aftermath of breaking the story, the accused seem pathologically selfish in both their culpability and their embracing of the laws that put limits on when they can be accused.

Violation and distrust aren’t feelings that occur normally when teens and youth begin to explore their sexuality in relationships with others.

The response to the allegations and the lengthy piece by Amos Kamil makes the stories of abuse all the more astounding. Former students and Horace Mann graduates are at once both troubled by the allegations and supportive of their school. The violation due to broken trust of an adult is bad enough, but when relationships are strained and the loyal alumi are dismissive in nature toward the victims, then where exactly do victims go who have experienced similar crimes and what response can they expect?

It’s important, then, for us to see how predators work because they are valuable lessons for parents and child advocates who are able to see the very pitfalls into which many abuse victims will fall. In one of the many stories about the abuse at Horace Mann School, one of the teachers, Mr. Berman, is described as eccentric and charismatic. He champions genius so, in the classroom, he sets the bar impossibly high. His elitism is so prevalent that students work very hard to please him, failing constantly. When a student finally reached the unfeasible and made an intelligent comment or connection to the class, Mr. Berman would heap praise on them. Any child who tried that hard to please a teacher would, of course, accept the offer to visit the teacher’s home, drink alcohol (illegally, of course) and that’s where the danger beings. Marc Fisher writes about this incident in a New Yorker piece that details the bait-and-switch that occurred in how a teacher breaks the trust of his innocent students.

It appears that there is a sense of nostalgia that is holding people back from being upset by the numerous inappropriate instances of rape that went on at Horace Mann School. The other disturbing theme is the abhorrent victim-blaming that happened once the stories of abuse came to light. It’s worth noting that none of the victims want to be identified by name because everyone uses initials and the more you dig into this specific case the more you realize that there are very strong secrets in this school.

Tek Young Lin, one of the teachers, admitted to having sex with “maybe 3” of his students and told a New York Times reporter that “no coercion had been used”. In that piece Lin is quoted as saying, “Everything I did was in warmth and affection and not a power play.”

Humiliation and shame keeps victims from speaking about unspeakable acts committed upon them.

Lin describes the abuse as “warm and affectionate,” but Jerry Sandusky did the same thing, describing the showers he took with his players as “horsing around”.


It’s typical of abusers to make light of the damage that they are inflicting upon their victims.

“Thomas M. Kelly, the head of the school, declined to comment directly on Mr. Lin’s statements, but a spokesman for the school’s public relations firm said: ‘If what Mr. Lin has told The New York Times is true, the conduct in which he says he engaged was appalling. We urge him to cooperate with law enforcement authorities.’ Mr. Lin said no authorities had contacted him.” 

Being a light in the darkness.

It is impossible to say which is harder, being a victim of abuse, or stepping forward to share your story. Both are painful, frightening experiences, but only one can be looked upon as potentially cleansing. Those who come forward are sometimes viewed as sensationalists, attention seekers who provide scandal in exchange for recognition. The truth is, they are members of a spiritual cleaning crew, shining sunlight into oppressive corners.

If you know of such a story, or have one of your own, consider speaking out. Besides the healing and closure that each of us needs in such cases, there is the chance for prevention. If even one child is saved from the horrors of abuse, the pain of stepping forward becomes worthwhile. Great is the truth, right?

Keeping Children Safe

By Kelly Wickham

Image credit: www.sfcapc.org

This month at Little Pickle Press we have dedicated our space to helping raise awareness about abuse and provided many tools to help parents and advocates keep children safe. We have done this because we know some disturbing statistics.

For example, did you know that the United States loses 5 children daily to abuse-related deaths? Or did you know that every 47 seconds a child is abused in this country? How about the numbers in terms of dollars; did you know that welfare actions such as foster care and medical care costs the U.S. $124 billion according to the US Government Accountability Office? The numbers alone are staggering and we got to interview someone who is working to reverse those numbers.

Molly Jardiniano works as the Senior Program Director of the Child Safety Awareness Program at the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. Her very important job is to advocate for children by empowering them to understand what abuse is. Through the Child Safety Awareness Program, Molly goes into San Francisco Unified School District elementary schools and teaches child sexual abuse prevention lessons to children in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade.

The message, says Molly, is made possible through foundation grant funds and is available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. When working with schools, she helps educate parents as well as teachers, who are considered mandated reporters. So far, they’ve reached 43,000 children in the Bay area alone by discussing what constitutes personal safety and how to keep your private body parts safe as well as the difference between “safe” and “unsafe” touches. It’s a simple message that she summed up for me when I spoke with her:

Say no.
Get away.
Tell someone.

The Child Safety Awareness Program members work with these children, ages 5-11, in 4 separate 30 minutes classroom meetings throughout the school year. They also work with the people who spend a lot of time with children, such as daycare providers, law enforcement and medical personnel, and teachers.

Their mission statement is clear: “To provide children with specific information and practice skills that will help them when dealing with dangerous and abusive situations. Children need to be decision-makers and our goal is to empower them to be safe.”

Molly says, “The key to prevention is talking to children before a safety rule is broken.” With this in mind, parents and caregivers can empower children to become their own first line of defense against those who would harm them.

I urge you to view this video even though it is long so that you can get a feel for what this program looks like first hand. You will note that Molly comes in on the video at the 8:55 mark (so feel free to fast forward!) where she talks with a classroom full of children who are learning about their bodies and safety from her.

Finally, I urge you to see about similar programs in your area. When 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is the statistic we consider when it comes to abuse this program is necessary and doing very important work. If you don’t have a Safety Awareness workshop in your area, please urge your local community members to make this a priority. It’s a matter of life.

To schedule a Safety Awareness workshop in the San Francisco area http://www.sfcapc.org/sign_up 

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1800 799-SAFE (7233)

SF has the Talk Line 24-hour 415-441 KIDS (5437)

Keeping Children Safe

By Kelly Wickham

Image credit: www.sfcapc.org

This month at Little Pickle Press we have dedicated our space to helping raise awareness about abuse and provided many tools to help parents and advocates keep children safe. We have done this because we know some disturbing statistics.

For example, did you know that the United States loses 5 children daily to abuse-related deaths? Or did you know that every 47 seconds a child is abused in this country? How about the numbers in terms of dollars; did you know that welfare actions such as foster care and medical care costs the U.S. $124 billion according to the US Government Accountability Office? The numbers alone are staggering and we got to interview someone who is working to reverse those numbers.

Molly Jardiniano works as the Senior Program Director of the Child Safety Awareness Program at the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center. Her very important job is to advocate for children by empowering them to understand what abuse is. Through the Child Safety Awareness Program, Molly goes into San Francisco Unified School District elementary schools and teaches child sexual abuse prevention lessons to children in grades Kindergarten through 5th grade.

The message, says Molly, is made possible through foundation grant funds and is available in English, Spanish, and Mandarin. When working with schools, she helps educate parents as well as teachers, who are considered mandated reporters. So far, they’ve reached 43,000 children in the Bay area alone by discussing what constitutes personal safety and how to keep your private body parts safe as well as the difference between “safe” and “unsafe” touches. It’s a simple message that she summed up for me when I spoke with her:

Say no.
Get away.
Tell someone.

The Child Safety Awareness Program members work with these children, ages 5-11, in 4 separate 30 minutes classroom meetings throughout the school year. They also work with the people who spend a lot of time with children, such as daycare providers, law enforcement and medical personnel, and teachers.

Their mission statement is clear: “To provide children with specific information and practice skills that will help them when dealing with dangerous and abusive situations. Children need to be decision-makers and our goal is to empower them to be safe.”

Molly says, “The key to prevention is talking to children before a safety rule is broken.” With this in mind, parents and caregivers can empower children to become their own first line of defense against those who would harm them.

I urge you to view this video even though it is long so that you can get a feel for what this program looks like first hand. You will note that Molly comes in on the video at the 8:55 mark (so feel free to fast forward!) where she talks with a classroom full of children who are learning about their bodies and safety from her.

Finally, I urge you to see about similar programs in your area. When 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is the statistic we consider when it comes to abuse this program is necessary and doing very important work. If you don’t have a Safety Awareness workshop in your area, please urge your local community members to make this a priority. It’s a matter of life.

To schedule a Safety Awareness workshop in the San Francisco area http://www.sfcapc.org/sign_up 

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1800 799-SAFE (7233)

SF has the Talk Line 24-hour 415-441 KIDS (5437)

Forget Me Not Farm, Helping Abuse Survivors Heal

by Sarah Seward



Every year, 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing a destructive cycle.

In light of these shocking numbers, I raise the question, “What are we doing to help break the cycle?”

There many organizations dedicated to helping the victims of child abuse. Today I’d like to share with you the work of one such outstanding organization, Forget Me Not Farm, and show how you can help make a difference in the life of an abuse survivor.

About the Farm


Image courtesy of Forget Me Not Farm
Forget Me Not Farm is breaking the cycle by connecting children who have suffered abuse with other abuse survivors––the animals that call Forget Me Not Farm home.

Forget Me Not Farm Children’s Services was founded in 1992 by director Carol Rathmann, and established as a non-profit subsidiary of the Sonoma Humane Society in 2008. The Farm is home to a veritable menagerie of animals that at one time or another suffered neglect or abuse. The programs at the Farm teach young people to treat other living beings with respect, a lesson that opens paths to healing and helps reduce the likelihood of them perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

“We started our program to teach at-risk children how to love animals – so they wouldn’t hurt them. Very quickly we discovered that our animals were helping the children too. For almost 20 years, we’ve been witnessing amazing transformations. Our farm provides a place for the children to experience and learn kindness, compassion, and empathy from a new source they can trust. It’s breaking the cycle of abuse.” ~ Carol Rathmann

Creating opportunity for every child


Image courtesy of Forget Me Not Farm
Through animal-assisted and horticultural therapeutic interventions, Forget Me Not Farm provides a host of new, positive experiences for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. The Farm partners with a consortium of nine child welfare agencies throughout Sonoma County, so that children with diagnoses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, and Attachment Disorder have a chance to learn compassion and respect for all living things.

Forget Me Not Farm offers programs for very young children as well as for older youths. Young children can tour of the Farm and enjoy meeting the animals. There are summer campsavailable for two age groups; Animal Adventure & Education Camp for children in grades 2-7 and Teen Career Camp for youths in grades 8-11. There are also Academic Community Service opportunities available for youths aged 11-18. The Foster Youth Mentoring Program for tweens aged 14-17 takes the experience to the next level, providing participants the opportunity to learn real-life skills and a chance to discover a passion for animals that may lead them to a career in animal services. Pursuing a future inspired by compassion, empathy and respect is an outstanding way to overcome the circumstances that bring most children the Farm.

Even though there are sure to be some children who don’t pursue the full extent of the opportunities offered by the Farm, there is no doubt that the organization is changing lives every day. You and I and everyone we know can support this effort to break the cycle of abuse.

Little Pickle Press has pledged their support to Forget Me Not Farm by offering to donate 20% of each sale of the award-winning children’s picture book, What Does It Mean To Be Safe? to the Farm. To join in the effort and make a donation, just enter promo code FARM2013 at checkout when you purchase What Does It Mean To Be Safe?. We each have the power to be the change we seek, so please don’t wait; donate today.

Forget Me Not Farm, Helping Abuse Survivors Heal

by Sarah Seward



Every year, 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, continuing a destructive cycle.

In light of these shocking numbers, I raise the question, “What are we doing to help break the cycle?”

There many organizations dedicated to helping the victims of child abuse. Today I’d like to share with you the work of one such outstanding organization, Forget Me Not Farm, and show how you can help make a difference in the life of an abuse survivor.

About the Farm


Image courtesy of Forget Me Not Farm
Forget Me Not Farm is breaking the cycle by connecting children who have suffered abuse with other abuse survivors––the animals that call Forget Me Not Farm home.

Forget Me Not Farm Children’s Services was founded in 1992 by director Carol Rathmann, and established as a non-profit subsidiary of the Sonoma Humane Society in 2008. The Farm is home to a veritable menagerie of animals that at one time or another suffered neglect or abuse. The programs at the Farm teach young people to treat other living beings with respect, a lesson that opens paths to healing and helps reduce the likelihood of them perpetuating the cycle of abuse.

“We started our program to teach at-risk children how to love animals – so they wouldn’t hurt them. Very quickly we discovered that our animals were helping the children too. For almost 20 years, we’ve been witnessing amazing transformations. Our farm provides a place for the children to experience and learn kindness, compassion, and empathy from a new source they can trust. It’s breaking the cycle of abuse.” ~ Carol Rathmann

Creating opportunity for every child


Image courtesy of Forget Me Not Farm
Through animal-assisted and horticultural therapeutic interventions, Forget Me Not Farm provides a host of new, positive experiences for children who are victims of abuse and neglect. The Farm partners with a consortium of nine child welfare agencies throughout Sonoma County, so that children with diagnoses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, and Attachment Disorder have a chance to learn compassion and respect for all living things.

Forget Me Not Farm offers programs for very young children as well as for older youths. Young children can tour of the Farm and enjoy meeting the animals. There are summer campsavailable for two age groups; Animal Adventure & Education Camp for children in grades 2-7 and Teen Career Camp for youths in grades 8-11. There are also Academic Community Service opportunities available for youths aged 11-18. The Foster Youth Mentoring Program for tweens aged 14-17 takes the experience to the next level, providing participants the opportunity to learn real-life skills and a chance to discover a passion for animals that may lead them to a career in animal services. Pursuing a future inspired by compassion, empathy and respect is an outstanding way to overcome the circumstances that bring most children the Farm.

Even though there are sure to be some children who don’t pursue the full extent of the opportunities offered by the Farm, there is no doubt that the organization is changing lives every day. You and I and everyone we know can support this effort to break the cycle of abuse.

Little Pickle Press has pledged their support to Forget Me Not Farm by offering to donate 20% of each sale of the award-winning children’s picture book, What Does It Mean To Be Safe? to the Farm. To join in the effort and make a donation, just enter promo code FARM2013 at checkout when you purchase What Does It Mean To Be Safe?. We each have the power to be the change we seek, so please don’t wait; donate today.

Featured Customer of the Month: McNally Robinson Booksellers

By Cameron Crane


In my opinion, if you are a reader, there are three things that are almost guaranteed to happen to you at least once in your life: (1) you will fall head over heels in love with a book (or a character in it, or both); (2) you will so deeply admire an author that you will find a friend in their words; and finally, (3) you will one day find a bookstore that is so special, it becomes a second home. I say this as a reader who has experienced all three of these things a multitude of times—most recently in my position as the Marketing Professional at Little Pickle Press.

The first time I read Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons, I fell in love with the book and even more in love with its protagonist, Connor. Before I ever talked to Jodi Carmichael on the phone, I found myself smiling or audibly laughing every time I read one of her emails, blog posts, or Facebook statuses. And when McNally Robinson Booksellers hosted the launch of Spaghetti in Winnipeg, I knew that it was a bookstore so special, it would immediately feel like home if ever I got the chance to walk through the doors.

Jodi Carmichael greeting her audience at McNally’s
Jodi signing copies of Spaghetti for some lucky readers!
Jodi’s special audience showing support with Spaghetti t-shirts!
I knew this for several reasons. First, I knew that any bookstore that supported Spaghettiand Jodi was a bookstore I liked. Second, in Jodi Carmichael’s blog post with pictures from the event, not only was she glowing with excitement, she also casually referred to McNally’s as “the finest Independent Book Store in all of the world”. But this notion didn’t truly set in until I visited McNally’s website and began to really explore what they are about.

McNally Robinson is a family-oriented independent bookseller, committed to the values of community bookselling. They believe that “reading is co-relative with a thoughtful, imaginative and fulfilled life”, and, as the launch of Spaghetti demonstrated, they go above and beyond to foster a love of it. From the floor-to-ceiling tree with a winding staircase leading to the kids’ department, to a beautiful collection of children’s books and a highly supportive staff, McNally’s is definitely a placed to be loved. And we do!

Thank you, McNally’s, for your generous support of Little Pickle Press, Jodi Carmichael, and Spaghetti!

Featured Customer of the Month: McNally Robinson Booksellers

By Cameron Crane


In my opinion, if you are a reader, there are three things that are almost guaranteed to happen to you at least once in your life: (1) you will fall head over heels in love with a book (or a character in it, or both); (2) you will so deeply admire an author that you will find a friend in their words; and finally, (3) you will one day find a bookstore that is so special, it becomes a second home. I say this as a reader who has experienced all three of these things a multitude of times—most recently in my position as the Marketing Professional at Little Pickle Press.

The first time I read Spaghetti is NOT a Finger Food and Other Life Lessons, I fell in love with the book and even more in love with its protagonist, Connor. Before I ever talked to Jodi Carmichael on the phone, I found myself smiling or audibly laughing every time I read one of her emails, blog posts, or Facebook statuses. And when McNally Robinson Booksellers hosted the launch of Spaghetti in Winnipeg, I knew that it was a bookstore so special, it would immediately feel like home if ever I got the chance to walk through the doors.

Jodi Carmichael greeting her audience at McNally’s
Jodi signing copies of Spaghetti for some lucky readers!
Jodi’s special audience showing support with Spaghetti t-shirts!
I knew this for several reasons. First, I knew that any bookstore that supported Spaghettiand Jodi was a bookstore I liked. Second, in Jodi Carmichael’s blog post with pictures from the event, not only was she glowing with excitement, she also casually referred to McNally’s as “the finest Independent Book Store in all of the world”. But this notion didn’t truly set in until I visited McNally’s website and began to really explore what they are about.

McNally Robinson is a family-oriented independent bookseller, committed to the values of community bookselling. They believe that “reading is co-relative with a thoughtful, imaginative and fulfilled life”, and, as the launch of Spaghetti demonstrated, they go above and beyond to foster a love of it. From the floor-to-ceiling tree with a winding staircase leading to the kids’ department, to a beautiful collection of children’s books and a highly supportive staff, McNally’s is definitely a placed to be loved. And we do!

Thank you, McNally’s, for your generous support of Little Pickle Press, Jodi Carmichael, and Spaghetti!

The Relationship Between Sexual Abuse and Eating Disorders

By Jennifer Lowell, Ph.D.

Image Credit: theunsecretshopper.com
Millions of people, both females and males, are affected by eating disorders in their lifetime. Eating disorders are psychological illnesses that result in preoccupation with food and eating, and often with exercise, weight, and body image. The most well known types are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. Eating disorders often begin during adolescence or young adulthood, but can emerge earlier or later in the life span. They arise from multiple factors that differ from person to person. These include personality traits, genetic vulnerabilities, cultural pressures, family messages, and/or triggers stemming from significant life events. One circumstance that is strongly considered to be a risk factor in the development of an eating disorder, principally Bulimia Nervosa, is sexual abuse. This link is further supported when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) appears subsequent to the abuse. With that said, it should be noted that not all children who are sexually abused develop an eating disorder, and not all individuals with Bulimia or an eating disorder were sexually abused.


The impact of childhood sexual abuse varies for each person. Some possible repercussions are shame about oneself, shame about one’s body, and/or irrational guilt over feeling responsible for causing, or not preventing, the abuse. Additional potential effects include feelings of loss of control in one’s life, powerlessness, body dissatisfaction, anxiety related to intimacy and sexuality, and rejection of one’s own sexuality. The consequences of sexual abuse are not always immediate, but may arise later, because even after the abuse has stopped, the emotional injuries can persist.


An individual who has been sexually abused and is dealing with difficult feelings, memories, thoughts, and impulses is more vulnerable to developing an eating disorder because of its comforting, albeit destructive, qualities. The use of food, either through overeating, purging, or restricting, serves as a coping mechanism to distract, numb, control, empower, or in other ways, pacify or self-soothe the individual. For example, bingeing may offer comfort by stuffing down or suppressing uncomfortable feelings, while purging may release anger or function as a means of self-punishment. Striving to sculpt a perfect body through compulsive exercise can evoke feelings of power and self-worth that was damaged by the abuse. Additionally, making oneself appear unattractive by being too heavy or thin can be a way to de-sexualize and protect oneself from the sexual interest of others. While the symptoms of an eating disorder may appear to be about food, they generally have little to do with hunger or fullness. Instead, they act as a means to relieve the myriad of emotions and tension brought about by the abuse.


While both eating disorders and sexual abuse are heartbreaking and painful, recovery and healing is possible. Many therapeutic methods now exist that help repair the wounds of trauma, including talking and somatic-oriented approaches. Additionally, many different types of eating disorder treatment are available, including newer, promising approaches for teenagers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jennifer Lowell is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in individual therapy, eating disorders, and attachment issues, and maintains a private practice in San Francisco, CA and Kentfield, CA.

With over 12 years of experience as a psychologist, and as a graduate of Pacifica Graduate School of Psychology, she is currently working as a private practitioner and sees a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, compulsive eating, disordered eating, and body image issues, as well as depression, anxiety, loneliness, relationship concerns, insecurity issues, and attachment wounds. 

The Relationship Between Sexual Abuse and Eating Disorders

By Jennifer Lowell, Ph.D.

Image Credit: theunsecretshopper.com
Millions of people, both females and males, are affected by eating disorders in their lifetime. Eating disorders are psychological illnesses that result in preoccupation with food and eating, and often with exercise, weight, and body image. The most well known types are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder. Eating disorders often begin during adolescence or young adulthood, but can emerge earlier or later in the life span. They arise from multiple factors that differ from person to person. These include personality traits, genetic vulnerabilities, cultural pressures, family messages, and/or triggers stemming from significant life events. One circumstance that is strongly considered to be a risk factor in the development of an eating disorder, principally Bulimia Nervosa, is sexual abuse. This link is further supported when Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) appears subsequent to the abuse. With that said, it should be noted that not all children who are sexually abused develop an eating disorder, and not all individuals with Bulimia or an eating disorder were sexually abused.


The impact of childhood sexual abuse varies for each person. Some possible repercussions are shame about oneself, shame about one’s body, and/or irrational guilt over feeling responsible for causing, or not preventing, the abuse. Additional potential effects include feelings of loss of control in one’s life, powerlessness, body dissatisfaction, anxiety related to intimacy and sexuality, and rejection of one’s own sexuality. The consequences of sexual abuse are not always immediate, but may arise later, because even after the abuse has stopped, the emotional injuries can persist.


An individual who has been sexually abused and is dealing with difficult feelings, memories, thoughts, and impulses is more vulnerable to developing an eating disorder because of its comforting, albeit destructive, qualities. The use of food, either through overeating, purging, or restricting, serves as a coping mechanism to distract, numb, control, empower, or in other ways, pacify or self-soothe the individual. For example, bingeing may offer comfort by stuffing down or suppressing uncomfortable feelings, while purging may release anger or function as a means of self-punishment. Striving to sculpt a perfect body through compulsive exercise can evoke feelings of power and self-worth that was damaged by the abuse. Additionally, making oneself appear unattractive by being too heavy or thin can be a way to de-sexualize and protect oneself from the sexual interest of others. While the symptoms of an eating disorder may appear to be about food, they generally have little to do with hunger or fullness. Instead, they act as a means to relieve the myriad of emotions and tension brought about by the abuse.


While both eating disorders and sexual abuse are heartbreaking and painful, recovery and healing is possible. Many therapeutic methods now exist that help repair the wounds of trauma, including talking and somatic-oriented approaches. Additionally, many different types of eating disorder treatment are available, including newer, promising approaches for teenagers.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jennifer Lowell is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in individual therapy, eating disorders, and attachment issues, and maintains a private practice in San Francisco, CA and Kentfield, CA.

With over 12 years of experience as a psychologist, and as a graduate of Pacifica Graduate School of Psychology, she is currently working as a private practitioner and sees a broad spectrum of clients. Among her areas of expertise are eating disorders including anorexia, bulimia, compulsive eating, disordered eating, and body image issues, as well as depression, anxiety, loneliness, relationship concerns, insecurity issues, and attachment wounds. 

Resources for Discussing Safety with Children

By Cameron Crane

As we continue to conquer the topic of child sexual abuse, safety, and prevention, one thing is becoming extraordinarily clear—the best way to protect your children is to educate them. Having a conversation about safety with your children does not have to be scary. In fact, having the tools and knowledge required to keep themselves safe can be quite empowering for children.

At Little Pickle Press, safety is a topic that we discuss often, from physical to emotional and social safety, even cyber safety. We strive to offer tools that help to begin these conversations. In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite safety articles and resources that we have published on our blog:





How do you talk to your children about safety? If you have additional resources that you would like to share, please do so here!

Resources for Discussing Safety with Children

By Cameron Crane

As we continue to conquer the topic of child sexual abuse, safety, and prevention, one thing is becoming extraordinarily clear—the best way to protect your children is to educate them. Having a conversation about safety with your children does not have to be scary. In fact, having the tools and knowledge required to keep themselves safe can be quite empowering for children.

At Little Pickle Press, safety is a topic that we discuss often, from physical to emotional and social safety, even cyber safety. We strive to offer tools that help to begin these conversations. In case you missed them, here are some of our favorite safety articles and resources that we have published on our blog:





How do you talk to your children about safety? If you have additional resources that you would like to share, please do so here!

Eyes Wide Open: Warning Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse in Children

By Khadijah Lacina

 Image Credit: http://www.couriermail.com.au/lifestyle/parenting

What would you think if, when doing laundry one day, you found notes in all of your little girl’s pockets with one word written on them: “Help”?


Hopefully you would do what this child’s mother did. She took the notes seriously and got assistance for her daughter. Unfortunately, the warning signs of possible sexual abuse are not always this clear, and can take the form of both behavioral and physical symptoms.


“Warning sign” is really just another way of saying “opportunity for prevention or protection.”  It provides adults with the tools to recognize possible problems and to take action to protect the children. We must be educated and aware of this, as it is our responsibility, as adults, to look for and notice symptoms of the sexually abused child. To this end, we asked Samantha Maciaszek, Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (MFTi), to explain some of the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse, as well as some suggestions as to who to contact if we suspect a child of being a victim. This is her reply:


What is child sexual abuse?


The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect defines child sexual abuse as “any childhood sexual experience that interferes with or has the potential for interfering with a child’s healthy development.”

Facts and Statistics


There are approximately 60 million sexual abuse survivors living in the US today. 73 million boys and 150 million girls under the age of 18 were victims of forced sexual intercourse or other sexual violence in 2002.


Child sexual abuse perpetrators are often someone close to the child and/or the family of the child. This includes family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, clergy, and older youth. Persons in authority and caregivers in whom society places trust and power do not always warrant such license.

Signs and Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse


Children who have been sexually abused frequently demonstrate symptoms in the following categories: (a) physical, (b) emotional, (c) behavioral, (d) sexual, and (e) no symptoms at all.

Physical signs of child sexual abuse are less common and include urinary tract infections, swelling or rashes in the genital area, sexually transmitted diseases, and physical symptoms associated with anxiety such as headaches or chronic stomach pain.


Emotional symptoms are more common and include depression, anxiety, inappropriate anger, rebellion, and suicidal ideation/attempts.


Behavioral signs include bed wetting, nightmares, irritability, eating problems, secretiveness, compulsive washing and/or masturbation, unwarranted fear of people and places, refusal to attend school, withdrawal from family and social situations, running away from home, and reenactment of abuse on objects or with others.


Sexual symptoms include unusual interest in or avoidance of sexual ideas and materials, seductive behaviors, creating drawings that illustrate sexual acts, and encouraging other children to perform sexual acts.


These signs and symptoms are not uniformly displayed by victims of child sexual abuse. Responses are idiosyncratic and are influenced by a variety of factors that include the child’s age at the time of abuse, the child’s relationship to the perpetrator, the responses by adult caretakers, the extent to which violence was part of the abuse, and the duration of the abuse. Consequently, some children will demonstrate florid symptoms while others exhibit none. Compounding these difficulties in identifying victims of child sexual abuse is the fact that most of these symptoms are shared with other common childhood developmental tasks and stages, illnesses, and mental disorders.


Resources that can help if you suspect abuse:

References:


Dove, M. K., Miller, K. L. Child Sexual Abuse: What Every Educator Should Know. (2007)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Samantha Maciaszek is working towards becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist. She currently works as a school-based family therapist intern at Adda Clevenger Prep School.

Eyes Wide Open: Warning Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse in Children

By Khadijah Lacina

 Image Credit: http://www.couriermail.com.au/lifestyle/parenting

What would you think if, when doing laundry one day, you found notes in all of your little girl’s pockets with one word written on them: “Help”?


Hopefully you would do what this child’s mother did. She took the notes seriously and got assistance for her daughter. Unfortunately, the warning signs of possible sexual abuse are not always this clear, and can take the form of both behavioral and physical symptoms.


“Warning sign” is really just another way of saying “opportunity for prevention or protection.”  It provides adults with the tools to recognize possible problems and to take action to protect the children. We must be educated and aware of this, as it is our responsibility, as adults, to look for and notice symptoms of the sexually abused child. To this end, we asked Samantha Maciaszek, Marriage and Family Therapist Intern (MFTi), to explain some of the signs and symptoms of child sexual abuse, as well as some suggestions as to who to contact if we suspect a child of being a victim. This is her reply:


What is child sexual abuse?


The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect defines child sexual abuse as “any childhood sexual experience that interferes with or has the potential for interfering with a child’s healthy development.”

Facts and Statistics


There are approximately 60 million sexual abuse survivors living in the US today. 73 million boys and 150 million girls under the age of 18 were victims of forced sexual intercourse or other sexual violence in 2002.


Child sexual abuse perpetrators are often someone close to the child and/or the family of the child. This includes family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, clergy, and older youth. Persons in authority and caregivers in whom society places trust and power do not always warrant such license.

Signs and Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse


Children who have been sexually abused frequently demonstrate symptoms in the following categories: (a) physical, (b) emotional, (c) behavioral, (d) sexual, and (e) no symptoms at all.

Physical signs of child sexual abuse are less common and include urinary tract infections, swelling or rashes in the genital area, sexually transmitted diseases, and physical symptoms associated with anxiety such as headaches or chronic stomach pain.


Emotional symptoms are more common and include depression, anxiety, inappropriate anger, rebellion, and suicidal ideation/attempts.


Behavioral signs include bed wetting, nightmares, irritability, eating problems, secretiveness, compulsive washing and/or masturbation, unwarranted fear of people and places, refusal to attend school, withdrawal from family and social situations, running away from home, and reenactment of abuse on objects or with others.


Sexual symptoms include unusual interest in or avoidance of sexual ideas and materials, seductive behaviors, creating drawings that illustrate sexual acts, and encouraging other children to perform sexual acts.


These signs and symptoms are not uniformly displayed by victims of child sexual abuse. Responses are idiosyncratic and are influenced by a variety of factors that include the child’s age at the time of abuse, the child’s relationship to the perpetrator, the responses by adult caretakers, the extent to which violence was part of the abuse, and the duration of the abuse. Consequently, some children will demonstrate florid symptoms while others exhibit none. Compounding these difficulties in identifying victims of child sexual abuse is the fact that most of these symptoms are shared with other common childhood developmental tasks and stages, illnesses, and mental disorders.


Resources that can help if you suspect abuse:

References:


Dove, M. K., Miller, K. L. Child Sexual Abuse: What Every Educator Should Know. (2007)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Samantha Maciaszek is working towards becoming a Marriage and Family Therapist. She currently works as a school-based family therapist intern at Adda Clevenger Prep School.

Featured B Corp—Journey Healing Centers

By Audrey Lintner

Courtesy of Journey Healing Centers
When my husband was diagnosed with lymphoma last year, we started on a long road toward healing and wellness. I watched the debilitating effects of chemicals being pumped into his system, and paced waiting rooms while surgeons exercised their skills. We regrouped after every bit of bad news, and celebrated after every health “victory.” Throughout the entire ordeal, we have been supported by friends and family. The cause of our pain was obvious, and we’ve never once had to face it alone.

The pain of addiction, and the cause behind it, is often much less obvious. Abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a host of other influences can lead to drinking and drug abuse patterns that can eventually become prisons. Adding to the pain of addiction is the feeling of solitude or rejection. It’s easy to sympathize with a cancer patient; it’s also easy to feel disdain or even contempt for “that junkie down the street.”

Our Featured B Corp for the month of June is Journey Healing Centers, a group of drug and alcohol treatment centers that treat the entire person, rather than just their addiction. Relying on individually-tailored programs, serene settings, and a caring staff, Journey Healing Centers seeks to heal and unite the minds, bodies, and spirits of its guests. Yoga, meditation, and painting are paired with counseling at individual, family, and group levels to reach complete restoration.

Awarded the Gold Seal of Accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Journey Healing Centers continues to seek the highest levels of performance and contribution. Guided by their stated values of personal development, service, sobriety, innovation, transformation, and fun, Journey Healing Centers has achieved B Corp status. “Simply, our company, Journey Healing Centers, is a mission-driven organization. In other words, to join Journey is to take on a lifestyle transformation and commitment to personal development. We resonate with what B Lab is taking a stand for and we are proud to support the movement!”


Crutches for a broken leg are easily discarded. Crutches for a broken life are much harder to cast away. If you or a loved one need help to break the cycle of addiction, please consider calling Journey Healing Centers. 

Featured B Corp—Journey Healing Centers

By Audrey Lintner

Courtesy of Journey Healing Centers
When my husband was diagnosed with lymphoma last year, we started on a long road toward healing and wellness. I watched the debilitating effects of chemicals being pumped into his system, and paced waiting rooms while surgeons exercised their skills. We regrouped after every bit of bad news, and celebrated after every health “victory.” Throughout the entire ordeal, we have been supported by friends and family. The cause of our pain was obvious, and we’ve never once had to face it alone.

The pain of addiction, and the cause behind it, is often much less obvious. Abuse, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a host of other influences can lead to drinking and drug abuse patterns that can eventually become prisons. Adding to the pain of addiction is the feeling of solitude or rejection. It’s easy to sympathize with a cancer patient; it’s also easy to feel disdain or even contempt for “that junkie down the street.”

Our Featured B Corp for the month of June is Journey Healing Centers, a group of drug and alcohol treatment centers that treat the entire person, rather than just their addiction. Relying on individually-tailored programs, serene settings, and a caring staff, Journey Healing Centers seeks to heal and unite the minds, bodies, and spirits of its guests. Yoga, meditation, and painting are paired with counseling at individual, family, and group levels to reach complete restoration.

Awarded the Gold Seal of Accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, Journey Healing Centers continues to seek the highest levels of performance and contribution. Guided by their stated values of personal development, service, sobriety, innovation, transformation, and fun, Journey Healing Centers has achieved B Corp status. “Simply, our company, Journey Healing Centers, is a mission-driven organization. In other words, to join Journey is to take on a lifestyle transformation and commitment to personal development. We resonate with what B Lab is taking a stand for and we are proud to support the movement!”


Crutches for a broken leg are easily discarded. Crutches for a broken life are much harder to cast away. If you or a loved one need help to break the cycle of addiction, please consider calling Journey Healing Centers. 

First Friday Book Review: My Body Belongs to Me

Written by Jill Starishvesky and Illustrated by Sara Muller

Reviewed By Cameron Crane


This month, as we dive deeper into the difficult topic of child sexual abuse, you may be starting to feel a sense of urgency. Okay, we see the statistics, now what? Fortunately, this is precisely the power in education: if information is absorbed correctly, it often leads to action. In the case of child sexual abuse, educating the people around you about is an essential part of the solution. And the conversation begins with your children.

As Jill Starishevsky pointed out yesterday in her article Dispelling 10 Myths About Child Sexual Abuse, this is easier said than done. Many parents fear that talking to their children about sexual abuse is inappropriate, or that their child is too young to be learning about such things (although experts believe the appropriate time to approach the subject is when your child hits three). Others simply don’t know how to begin the conversation. Fortunately, Starishevsky created a tool that does just that.

My Body Belongs To Me is a critically acclaimed book that sensitively establishes boundaries for children by speaking to them on their own terms. Telling the story of a gender-neutral child who is inappropriately touched by an uncle’s friend, this tale delivers a powerful message when the youngster reveals the offender and the parents praise the child’s bravery. Most importantly, this narrative assures young ones that sexual molestation is not their fault, and that by speaking out, he or she will continue to grow big and strong.

Through the voice of her protagonist, Starishevsky approaches the topic of sexual abuse with a similar tactic Rana DiOrio uses in What Does It Mean To Be Safe?, engaging the reader in a non-threatening way that empowers them to take action if they feel something is unsafe. My Body Belongs To Me teaches children that when it comes to their bodies, there are some parts that are for “no one else to see” and encourages them to tell a parent or teacher if someone touches them inappropriately.

I love the way that My Body Belongs to Me places the child in a position of power, even as he is victimized. Moreover, the excellent use of rhyme helps this story feel more like a fun read, and less like a lesson. The delicate and factual approach to the different parts of the body, including those which are private, allow parents and educators to feel comfortable reading the story without a fear of revealing too much.

A “Suggestions for the Storyteller” section is also included to assist parents in facilitating a comfortable discussion about sexual abuse. It gives parents the opportunity to reveal themselves as a resource should anything happen, eliminating the feeling the child may have that talking about an experience will somehow get them in trouble, a fear that many abused children harbor.

If you are wondering what you can to do help stop this terrible epidemic, please consider having the conversation about sexual abuse with your children. You can purchase My Body Belongs To Me here