About The Authors
Cherie Benjoseph, LCSW is a founder and the Chief Operating Officer of KidSafe Foundation. As a clinical social worker, Cherie has spent the last 25 years advocating on the behalf of children and families. Inspired by a child who disclosed her own abuse in 1990, Cherie set her personal mission to prevent sexual abuse. While working as a school guidance counselor and mental health therapist Cherie specialized in violence prevention/conflict resolution, active parenting, and personal safety. She is an award winning coauthor of “My Body is Special and Belongs To ME!” and won the 211 Broward Rising Star Nonprofit Award in 2013. Cherie is the backbone of KidSafe Foundation, with her highly organized, systematic and detail oriented focus, she has ensured that programs have launched with the highest degree of efficacy. She holds a masters degree in Social Work from Boston University.
Sally Berenzweig, Med, MA is a founder and the Executive Director of KidSafe Foundation, the industry leader in child sexual abuse and exploitation prevention education. For more than 25 years Sally been at the forefront of this cause, initially counseling victims of sexual abuse and then later developing a proven prevention program, she has helped equip her community to better protect children. Sally is an established expert in child safety, internet safety and she coauthored “Jack teaches his friends to be KidSafe!” and the 2011 Literary Award Winning children’s book “My Body is Special and Belongs To ME!”. She is a much sought after national speaker; her energetic and charismatic style helps engage people to share in her mission of prevention. She holds a masters degree in Elementary Education and Counseling Psychology. As a result of her long-standing commitment and tireless work on the behalf of children and families, Sally received the 2012 Jefferson Award for Public Service.
About the Books
Jack Teaches His Friends to be KidSafe! presents a more expansive overview of the KidSafe language of safety. It includes nine important safety skills kids can learn from their parents – and each other.
My Body is Special and Belongs to Me is the conversation all parents want to have with their children. It introduces parents to the KidSafe language of safety and its importance in teaching personal safety skills to kids.
These two books speak both to children and adults. Children need a language of safety to understand that their bodies are special and belong to them. This theme runs throughout the two books. Adults can use this language of safety to help children learn the skills they need to stay safe. Children are taught to listen to their safety voice and to access help when something makes them feel uncomfortable or when someone violates a body boundary. Children are taught that it is important and okay to report such events to a trusted adult.
An empowered and knowledgeable child who feels comfortable talking with a trusted adult about real life topics is a child who will make safer and smarter choices along the journey to adulthood. We start these conversations young – in an age appropriate manner. Our books make the conversations easy.
We were inspired to write these books when our own children were young. At the time, we were teaching the skills to parents in seminars and often got feedback saying, “I get it but I can’t remember all the language you suggested, or the art of how to say it without coming from a place of fear.” So, we decided to make this information accessible to all parents in books written for children and families.
Many of us grew up with lessons of personal safety presented to us from a place of fear. But, fear immobilizes. It doesn’t teach. The KidSafe books take the exact opposite approach. We wrote the books – hoping parents will revisit them often with their children (like Dr. Seuss). Each time you read one of the books you can focus on a different skill, a picture, or use an example of something your child shared to kick off a conversation – and commend your child for speaking with you about something important.
My Body is Special and Belongs to Me! helps parents become comfortable with the topic of personal safety. As parents, we approach the topic of teaching our kids personal safety influenced (for better or worse) by our family of origin. Did your parents talk to you about safe and unsafe touch? Stranger danger? Were you taught the names of your private parts? Was communication within your home open? Was talking about anything under the category of “sex” taboo? Are you a survivor of child sexual abuse and now doubly concerned about how to protect your children?
My Body is Special and Belongs to Me! includes a parent section which answers the many questions we are often asked at KidSafe seminars. When should I start teaching my children the names of their private parts? Who is most likely to harm children? What is the grooming process used by offenders? How can I get over my discomfort of talking about personal safety? And many more.
Note to parents: The children’s portion of the book is wonderfully child friendly. The children love the rhyming nature of the book making it approachable and fun to read. It is adults who often have issues when approaching the topic of personal safety. The children are perfectly comfortable with it. They will instantly pick up on a parent’s “vibes”, energy, comfort level and body language. Think about the message you are sending to your children nonverbally. We as adults need to get more knowledgeable and comfortable with the topic of personal safety so we can best teach our children the skills they need in this ever more challenging world.