Recently, a discussion about several books by Debi Pearl, intended to help educate and prevent abuse of children, made me remember we should explain why A Better Way can not recommend those books. Among other troubling things, there is a page in one of the books, intended to help prepare children for exposure to porn. The gist of it is that, if someone shows you an inappropriate picture, you must “yell and tell”. It goes on to ask, “Samuel, will you look at the evil book? Will you dirty up your precious soul with pictures that the devil took?”
The entire premise of the books tends to lean towards making children feel guilty if they don’t always immediately “yell and tell”.
I’d like to ask–do we as adults ALWAYS know or remember exactly what to do right on the spur of the moment when faced with something scary and overwhelming? No. We do not. Those who have studied trauma understand that the human brain tends to do what it needs to do in the second for survival–which is why we don’t all respond in the same ways to danger or trauma. Some of us freeze, some fight, some take flight and others fawn. And sometimes we do several of those things.
There is a post by The Mama Bear Effect which explains why “immediately yell and tell” teaching is actually harming our goal of protecting children.
With the mission of protecting children from bearing the shame of abuse, we are very much against the mentality of “No, Go, Tell!”
The message that children must say ‘no’, must run away, and must tell right away, puts significant responsibility on the child to react defensively, when research has shown that even adults with combat training cannot overcome the ‘freeze’ response that many victims experience during a sexual assault. That is not to say that we shouldn’t teach children that they can yell ‘no’ and run away, but that it is not their job to do that. Do we want them to come and tell us right away? Absolutely. But if they are confused, afraid, or too ashamed to tell right away it’s more important that they tell us when they can. It is never too late to tell.
Why are we expecting more out of our children than many of us as adults can consistently accomplish? Do we really want to lay this burden on our precious little ones?
There are excellent books for teaching children about how to respond when they are exposed to porn, or how to respond to a potential or actual sexual abuse.
Here are some A Better Way recommends. You can find all 3 of these books on Amazon. (Should you ever need more suggestions, feel free to contact us.)
Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds by Kristen A. Jenson
Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids by Kristine A. Jenson
My Body is Private by Linda Walvoord Girard and Rodney Pate