A local author is teaming up with Alachua County schools to minimize the number of child sexual abuse cases.
About one in 10 children will be sexually abused before they turn 18, according to Darkness to Light, an organization dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse. Author Kandra Albury is teaming up with Alachua County Public Schools Head Start program to familiarize children with the subject through the publication of her new children’s book “Don’t You Dare Touch Me There!”
Head Start is a program that provides early childhood education, health, nutrition and parent involvement services to low-income students and their families. Having gone through the Head Start program as a student and later as a parent, Albury recognizes the potential the program has as a platform for change.
“Head Start gave me a voice, and I learned to become an advocate with that voice,” she said.
Drawing inspiration from her own struggles with sexual abuse, Albury wrote her book to encourage young children to value their bodies and to understand they have the power to protect themselves.
She introduced the book to Head Start teachers and faculty Friday at an assembly at Prairie View Elementary School. In addition to a reading of the book, she offered advice and different approaches for teachers to implement when addressing the topic with their students.
The book also features a contract for parents and children to sign called the “Promise to Tell and Listen Agreement” upon completing the book, opening up a line of communication for students and parents.
Ann Crowell, director of Alachua County Head Start, said the program is going to issue the book to 12 Head Start centers for teachers to familiarize themselves with the book before bringing it to the classroom. Because of the book’s sensitive nature, Croswell said teachers can opt out of reading the book to their classes. Crowell said she’s also working to organize a meeting with Head Start parents to discuss the book before it’s shared in any classes.
“I think this book will open the door for conversation,” Crowell said.
After Friday’s mock reading, Albury encouraged teachers to repeat the book’s title.
“Six simple words, one powerful message,” she said.