Tag Archives: sexual predators

Another Must-Read Book for Parents

Over the weekend, Dear Daughter and I journeyed to the bookstore. She is starting an anti-bullying program in the elementary schools in our district and wanted to buy a few books on bullying. While scanning the child care aisle with her, I came across a book that screamed for my attention.

HOW TO SAVE YOUR DAUGHTER’S LIFE: Straight Talk For Parents From America’s Top Criminal Profiler.

Yeah, I know right? If you love your daughter, how do you not pick it up and turn to the cover blurb? And once you’ve turned, how do you look your daughter in the eye and put it back on the shelf?

You don’t. And you shouldn’t. I’m dead serious. This book is a wake-up call for parents of girls. Not that the information doesn’t apply to boys, because it does. In fact nearly every scenario described in the book can be played out upon a little boy or young man. A terrifying thought when you consider your only job as a parent is to raise happy, healthy children. And if your child’s physical and emotional well-being is destroyed via assault by another human, you will have neither.

We will have neither.

Our children will suffer when we could have been more in control. Now don’t get me wrong, reading this book will make you raise your eyebrows at some points–who is Pat Brown, America’s top criminal profiler, to tell me what to do?–and want to slink away in embarrassment at others. She does not sugar coat her advice, but neither does she judge. She simply lays it all out on the line.

I work with at-risk children and I had no idea how easy it can be to slide into a life of prostitution. Nor did I understand all the forms prostitution can take. This book is an honest view into the world we subject our children to each day without nary a thought.

I’m not even kidding when I say I couldn’t put this book down. I bought it on Sunday during our family vacation and started reading Sunday night before bed. I finished it on Monday about halfway home from the lake. By dinner time, I’d already talked to my boys about the new rules in the house.

Surprisingly, I didn’t get a mass rebellion from my eleven and eight year olds. I’m banking on this early intervention to teach them the right way to treat others in their lives–namely the girls they like, will want to date and someday hope to marry.

Because not only did I learn how to keep my daughter safe, but I also took away from it how I can help my boys learn to keep your daughters safe.

As parents, we have been entrusted with our children’s lives. It is our responsibility to give them the best advantage we can and to protect them with everything we have. It is also our responsibility to raise upstanding, caring and respectful young men.

Educate yourself. Lead by example and for all that is holy, take care of your children to the very best of your ability.

Please.

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Get Off Your Soap Box: Personal Safety

In case you missed it, this week is when I get off my soap box and do something about the things I believe in.  In line for today is personal safety.

Yesterday, my little sister called me.  She’d found Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman on our shared Kindle account.

“After I finished reading, I curled up in my bed and cried for forty-five minutes.”

We then talked for forty-five minutes about how important this book is and about whom should read it.  While I know Ms. Littman wrote Want to Go Private? to initiate conversation between parents and their children, Little Sis believes far more people should read this book than just parents and teens.

“Everyone,” was her exact assessment.  And she’s right.

Personal safety is a taboo topic.  Nobody wants to hear about sexting scandals between young teens and thirty-year-old men.  Nobody wants to hear about incest or the assault that took place in the back seat after the homecoming game.  Everybody turns away from rape victims and ignores the pain they must have gone through.  Or worse yet, they blame the victim, not the predator.

Sadly, this mindset is so pervasive that even the victims blame themselves and predators are left to pray on others, untouched, unchecked and smarter with each perpetration.  It is sickening and debilitating.  It’s wrong on many levels.  And nobody is exempt.

Child pornography infiltrates many a household.  Significant others fall victim to the twisted whims of their partners and can’t escape the escalating behavior.  The elderly are emotionally manipulated for their money in the same way that vulnerable teens are culled by sexual predators.

I’ve worked as an advocate for children.  I’ve seen the fall-out from such abuse.  I’ve also seen just how horrifying these experiences can be.  And yet, we don’t take charge of personal safety the way we do drinking and driving.  The message is not on billboards and public radio.  The message does not make television commercials or magazine covers.  As a society, we prefer not to talk about it, because then it might not exist.

But it does exist.  Every day, potential victims are groomed by perpetrators.  Every day, victims are left to navigate the after-math of their experiences.  Every day, somebody blames the victim.

“They should have known better.”

“She asked for it.”

“It’s his own fault.”

The truth is, relationships are easily manipulated and perpetrators learn how to manipulate emotionally vulnerable individuals in a way that would make your toes curl.  They practice it, hone it, and perfect it like normal people do with their hobbies.  They get good at it so they can be more effective at luring their victims into a one-sided relationship that feels safe and fulfilling.

Well, I’m here to do something about your personal safety.  I am getting off my soap box and telling everyone I know that personal safety is hard to hold onto in this day and age.

Today I launch #WTGV, a book give-away of Want to go Private? 

#WTGV (Want to Go Viral) is my way of educating anyone who loves someone enough to care about their personal safety.  From November 1st-December 31st, I’m hosting a three book give-away of Want to Go Private?

If you simply want to enter your name in the drawing, hop over to my #WTGV Book Give-Away page and follow the rules posted there.

If you want to help make the message of personal safety  go viral, please visit my #WTGV page to learn how you can help spread the word.

If you care at all, please stop by the #WTGV tab and see what’s new between now and the end of the year.

So, who wants to go viral?

The Ultimate Wake-Up Call to Parents: Want to Go Private?

I’m going to be honest, I struggled with reading Want to Go Private.  Not because of the writing, but because of the content.  And because I’m a mom with a daughter, and the mother of three sons.  Also, because in my career as a child advocate I’ve seen first hand the impact that poor choices have on a teen’s life.

Want to Go Private?

Those very words strike fear into my heart, and have since my (much younger) brother and sister caught the first wave of internet chat rooms.  After reading Sarah Darer Littman’s YA novel, these words rip me apart.

If ever there is a call to challenge books, this would be it.  It’s graphic enough to make me queasy and personal enough to make people extremely upset.  Yet for all that, I applaud Ms. Littman for writing a book that needs to be available to a generation of children who live and die (sometimes literally) by the rulings of the internet.

What am I talking about?  Sexual predators who have easy access to our children’s innermost thoughts, fears and information.  But before you shake your head and say, “Impossible.  Not my children.  They know better,” hear me out.  Or rather, read Abby’s story yourself.

Starting highschool is difficult in the best of times.  For shy, fourteen-year-old Abby, being on the bottom rung of the social ladder is the catalyst for engaging in online chats with a “boy” named Luke.  As she struggles with a failing friendship, an unrequited crush, clueless parents and an annoying little sister, Abby retreats into a cyber friendship with the one person who actually listens to her.  Cares about her.  Accepts her.  And, eventually, loves her.

The first part of Want to Go Private? was frustrating to read.  Abby’s a smart girl.  She knows all the reasons to stay away from strangers.  She’s a good kid–just like yours and mine.  I wanted to shake her back to reality whenever she fell for Luke’s game.  I wanted to ground her for life when she began sharing far more than her thoughts.

At times, I felt like Ms. Littman rushed Abby’s physical responses.  Yet, the emotional ones were spot on.  In a few short months, Abby had believably become addicted to her relationship with Luke.  Ms. Littman’s execution of it will help parents and teens understand just how vulnerable kids are when it comes to their emotional attachments, how easily they are swayed by seemingly inconsequential events and how fiercely loyal they are to those they trust.

And so ends the first part of the book.

The second one had tears streaming down my face.  My heart literally ached for the anguish and uncertainty brought on by Abby’s careless behavior.  In this section Ms. Littman masterfully unravels the layers of a teen’s me-centric world in a way that should help teens understand their every action does, indeed, affect others.  It also proves just how easily we can lose control of our lives.

Logically, I feel like every teen and every parent should read this book.  Emotionally, I struggle.  I don’t want my daughter exposed to some of the content.  Particularly by my choosing.  And yet, it tells a tale of misplaced loyalty and betrayal far better than any lecture by any adult will ever be able to.

Kids tune parents out.  Kids listen to other kids.  My daughter will hear Abby’s words in a very different way than she will ever hear my own.

This book needs to be read.  It also needs to be discussed.  Before handing over my copy to my Dear Daughter, I told her that it was one of the most difficult books I had read.  I explained that it was graphic, though not gratuitous.  I told her parts of the book made me want to throw up.  I also told her I loved her and wanted her to remain safe.  She knows I’m here for her when she gets to the tough parts.  She knows, from past experience, that we’ll discuss the book when she’s done.

For the record, we have.  You can read our MAD Review of Want to Go Private? here and see just how much this novel affects teens.

Parents, if you have a child active in social networking, this is a must-read.  Before your child ever picks it up.  It is an amazing tool to open the door to the emotional side of our lectures.  It will help you remember what it was like to be a kid and how uncaring your parents sounded when they harped on you about things like grades and sports.  How you simply wanted somebody to see you, understand you, listen to you and love you.  Anybody.

Even a boy like Luke.