Protecting Your Child From Predators: How To Recognize And Respond To Sexual Danger, by Beth Robinson, EdD and Latayne C. Scott, PhD
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Bethany House Books. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Sometimes it is worthwhile to examine a book by talking about what is not included in it. There are a wide variety of potential abuses included here, different roles where people are viewed as being potentially threatening to children, and there are a lot of roles posted here, ranging from siblings and cousins in terms of family to classmates and abusive boyfriends to babysitters or athletic coaches to staff at summer camps to even youth ministers. That said, there were at least two glaring omissions in terms of adult authority figures who are a threat to children, and that would be parents themselves and teachers. It is clear why the first is omitted–this book is aimed at parents and it would hardly make sense to attack one’s own target market for a book. It is less clear why the book doesn’t talk about teachers as being potentially dangerous, especially when so many other adult authority figures are included as a potential risk for children. Be that as it may, the book’s message that there are no entirely safe places in this world is one to take to heart.
This particular book is a relatively short one at a bit more than 200 pages, and it is divided into three parts. After an acknowledgments section as well as an introduction to creating a warrior heart within children, there are two introductory chapters that seek to encourage parents to protect their turf and their children (1) as well as get used to having age-appropriate conversations with their children about sex (2). After that there are five chapters that seek to protect children five and under (I) that include discussions about what small children should know (3), dealing with abuse from authority figures like babysitters (4), looking at abuse by peers (5), using the cousin to discuss abuse by family members or trusted friends (6), and look at places that are vulnerable for abuse by strangers (7). This same pattern is then repeated for children between the ages of six to eleven (II) and then from twelve to adulthood (III), where the author discusses matters like abuse in private lessons (9), sleepovers (10), summer camp (11), the neighborhood (12), mission trips (15), coaches (16), abusive relationships (17), malls and other public places (18), as well as abuse through technology (13, 19). After that there is a conclusion, some recommended resources, and endnotes.
Overall, if one has to summarize this book and its intents, the book is intended as a wake up call to parents to act in ways that make it safe for children to report on what is going on in their lives and on the various threats they face. The authors make it repeatedly clear that children are vulnerable in a lot of ways and that there are no safe places where children can be absolutely protected from harm. The authors repeatedly encourage parents to raise up their children to have the heart of a warrior, to be brave and firm in saying no to unwanted sexual contact or conversation and to develop a relationship of trust with parents (this is, of course, assuming that the parents are not predators themselves) that will allow the parents to take appropriate steps in response to any worrisome information that is received without communicating to the children that they are in the wrong themselves for how others are behaving. This is a sobering book and an unpleasant book, but ultimately it is a useful book in making parents aware of the need to make their children less easy targets in rejecting secrets and in improving their own ability to communicate their own wishes as well as appreciate the efforts their parents are taking to keep them as safe as possible in a threatening world.