Categorized | Social Entrepreneur

Child Sex Abuse Prevention – Make it Your Business

Child Sex Abuse Prevention – Make it Your Business

Jill Starishevsky

 

Who am I?

I am Jill Starishevsky and the owner of a publishing company called Safety Star Media (http:/www.mybodybelongstome.com). I am also a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City and the author of My Body Belongs to Me, a children’s book intended to prevent child sexual abuse by teaching 3-8 year olds their bodies are private. I never planned to start a publishing company aimed at empowering children with messages of safety. Somehow it just happened.

 

Why did I start my business?

As a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City for more than a decade, I have often encountered children who were sexually abused for lengthy periods of time and suffered in silence. One case in particular had a profound impact on me and compelled me to write My Body Belongs to Me.

I prosecuted the case of a 9-year-old girl who had been raped by her stepfather since she was 6. She told no one. One day, the girl saw an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” about children who were physically abused. The episode, “Tortured Children,” empowered the girl with this simple message: If you are being abused, tell your parents. If you can’t tell your parents, go to school and tell your teacher. The girl got the message and the very next day went to school and told her teacher. I prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s office. The defendant was convicted and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.

I have thought often of that very sweet, very brave 9-year-old girl. It occurred to me that after three painful years, all it took to end her nightmare was a TV program encouraging her to “tell a teacher.”

I wrote My Body Belongs to Me to continue that message. It endeavors to teach children that they don’t have to endure abuse in silence. Parents and educators should use it as a tool to facilitate an open dialogue with youngsters. It is my hope that by educating girls and boys about this taboo subject, My Body Belongs to Me will prevent them from becoming victims in the first place.

Child Sex Abuse Prevention – Make it Your BusinessWhat is Safety Star Media?

When I set out to have the book published, several publishers were interested in the book, but wanted me to take out the line where the child in the book is touched. It would have silenced the message and I was not willing to let that happen. The book would have been useless as a tool because it would not have conveyed the message in a clear manner young children could understand.

Safety Star Media is the name of the publishing company I created. Our goal is to publish books that empower children to be their own safety stars. Creating Safety Star Media enabled me to get the book into the hands of children as quickly as possible.

Why is this subject matter so important?

I think it is incredibly important for parents to talk to their children about this subject. Many parents avoid the discussion because they fear it is uncomfortable or think this won’t happen to their child. But the statistics tell a very different and sad truth. In the United States, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused by the time they are 18. This conversation is not something that is intuitive to a child. If they do not learn from their parents, often times the only person the child learns from is the perpetrator. Furthermore, many children do not immediately tell someone if they are being abused. There are many reasons children do not immediately disclose abuse. Unlike a child falling down on the playground, abused children are less likely to run and tell a parent what has happened to them due to fear, shame, embarrassment, not understanding that the behavior was wrong, being told no one will believe them, it was their fault or they have to keep it a secret. If parents talk to their children about being touched, there is a greater likelihood that the children will disclose abuse.

How can others help?

I am often asked how people can help. I am in the process of translating My Body Belongs to Me into Spanish and am seeking a sponsor to have the book printed. The sponsor’s name would appear on the book’s cover. Individuals can help spread the word about the importance of talking to children about child sexual abuse prevention and refer them to our website http://www.MyBodyBelongstoMe.com for more information.

Feel free to join in spreading the word on social media:

Twitter: @SafetyStar https://twitter.com/#!/SafetyStar

Facebook Fanpage: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/My-Body-Belongs-to-Me/121318191793

Child Safety Network on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Child-Safety-Network-3950477?gid=3950477&trk=hb_side_g

Share this great interview on prevention tips:

http://abcnews.go.com/Health/video/talking-kids-sexual-abuse-10255396

Read my blog:

http://www.shewrites.com/profiles/blog/list?user=0wl67p95dr4r1

What is the one thing that you did right?

I worked very hard to create awareness about the important message highlighted in My Body Belongs to Me. In April 2011, I was honored to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show discussing the motivation for the book. I will continue to urge the media to cover prevention tips as they cover child sex abuse cases around the world. Join me in the fight – together we can stop the silence.

Words of advice to other social entrepreneurs?

For a long time, I waited for someone to do something about child sexual abuse prevention education. Then I decided – no more waiting. My advice for other social entrepreneurs is to find your passion and then share it. My passion was easy to identify. There is a war going on out there. The child predators have learned how to get to our children. They know what our children like, what they want and what they need. They know what to say to our children so they do not disclose the abuse. This is a wake-up call to all the parents out there, good parents, who are not talking to their children about child sexual abuse prevention. By not having this conversation with our children early, we are sending them out there naked. We can fight this war and win. Talk to your children. Teach them at a young age that their bodies are private. It is the best gift you will ever give them.

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