Special Envoy Launches Children Sex Abuse Awareness Campaign Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 18 April 2013 00:00

Students performing “My Body is Precious”Belize’s Special Envoy for Women and Children, Kim Simplis-Barrow, has launched an awareness campaign aimed at reducing the prevalence of sexual abuse against childred. The key instrument in the campaign is a children's book entitled “my body is precious”. The book was written to appeal to students from Infant II to Standard II and an audience made up mostly of this age group gathered at the Bliss Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, April 15, for its official release.

The book was written by Starla Bradley who holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work. She says that the book will “empower children by teaching them what is sexual abuse and how to respond to inappropriate advances”. Bradley believes that parents will benefit from the book as much as children because it will help them to address what has been a very difficult topic to touch.

In her message to parents in “my body is precious”, Kim Simplis-Barrow said, “It is never too early to start the conversation about sexual abuse and exploitation with your children… if you have never had the courage to talk to your child about this issue, this booklet is a great way to start.” The book features three main characters: Dee-Dee, Alex and Lisa. The children are neighbourhood friends who get together and speak about what they learn in school each day. One day Dee-Dee spoke about the topic of sexual abuse which was discussed by her teacher in class. The three spoke about what they know of the topic. They discussed appropriate touching (good touch/bad touch), possible perpetrators of sexual abuse and what to do when being sexually abused. The book ends with the three characters pledging to tell all their friends about sexual abuse. The book was dramatized at the Bliss on Monday. At the end of the skit, all the students in attendance made a similar promise to tell their friends about sexual abuse so they can all be safe.

Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, said the book is extremely special because “it teaches our children the importance of protecting their bodies while also encouraging them to read”. He said that we must do everything we can to protect our children from sexual abuse. Faber also made a request to the children in attendance which they promised to honour. The children recited a pledge to “read for me every day before I go to sleep”. He challenged parents to read with their children regularly because it strengthens their relationship and trust.

Kim Simplis-Barrow said that the next step in the campaign is to introduce the book to students across the country. She will be travelling across the country with the group of young students who have brought the book to life in drama and song. Another step to be taken is to produce something similar for teenagers to teach them to respect their body.

UNICEF is a key sponsor of the “my body is precious” project. Christine Norton, Country Representative of UNICEF, said that UNICEF will continue to support the campaign.