GURU SPOTLIGHT: JAYNEEN SANDERS
Jayneen Sanders is an incredible woman. The Australian author has dedicated herself to educating parents on something that is so important, but is often overlooked due to fear. Jay wrote "Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept" to help educate parents, children, carers and teachers on sexual abuse and body safety. Her journey in writing this book was not an easy one, but her passion for empowering children by ensuring they understood their body rights guided her.
WCMS: What inspired you to write your book “Some Secrets should not be kept?”
Jay: I was on my children’s school council and I asked the committee if we could provide Body Safety Education to the children. My request was basically ignored and I was put to the bottom of the agenda so I decided to use my skills as a author to write a book to help protect children from sexual abuse. I wanted to write a book that was non-threatening and age-appropriate.
Also, at that time my neighbour told me she had been abused as a child AND both her son and her daughter had been abused by their father for as long as they could remember. They only told her in their 30s. She said to me that we need to educate children to be aware from the first inappropriate touch that it is wrong and to tell a trusted adult. She said once a child is in the abuser’s web it is too late. The abuse and the grooming process are so complex that children are often too terrified to tell, and they will also feel conflicted as they may actually love the perpetrator especially if they are a family member. 95% of children know the the perpetrator.
At what age do you think parents should start educating their child on what to do if they ever experience sexual interference?
Parents need to educate their children from the age of 2 in Body Safety Education. From the moment a child begins to talk, use the correct names for a child’s private parts. That way if a child is touched inappropriately they have the language to tell a trusted adult exactly where they were touched.
What advice can you give to parents to help them develop and maintain an open communication pathway with their child?
Make sure nothing is off the table. Answer all their questions openly and honestly. Educate early in Body Safety which is very empowering for children and begin to educate your child in sex education from the age of 8 years.
If you could give yourself a piece of advice back when your teenage girls were between 3 and 7, what would it be?
I’m not quite sure how to answer that as I always told my girls your body is your body and it belongs to you! However, I would constantly use teachable moments to reinforce their self-esteem and ensure they were always empowered to say NO to unwanted touch. I would also never force them to kiss or hug a person if they did not want to.
What steps should parents take if their child tells them that they have experienced a traumatising event?
Parents need to reinforce to the child that they are now safe, that they are brave and that they believe them. Then contact organisations such as The Australian Childhood Foundation or Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) for counselling as soon as possible.
What should Parents be doing to educate themselves on sexual interference?
I would recommend all parents educate themselves about the grooming process as it is important to note pedophiles groom both the child and the family. Educate your child in Body Safety and don’t let your fear of this topic put your child at risk.
Children who live with a single parent are 20 times more likely to be sexually abused. So be careful who you let into your home. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 8 boys will be sexually abused before they are 18, so don’t think it can’t happen. How you react to a child who discloses is crucial to their recovery. Always believe a child when they disclose. In 98% of reported child abuse cases, the children’s statements were found to be true.
Jay has a number of resources to support parents, carers and teachers in educating themselves and their little ones on sexual interference and body safety. You can access these resources for free at Educate2Empower Publishing.