I was sent a copy of My Underpants Rule to review. I thought it was about a pair of underpants that are so cool, they rule (sort of thing) but it's not; it's actually about a rule for underpants.
Child sexual abuse has been in the news a lot lately - it seems that barely a week passes without one scandal or another. When I was growing up, the subject wasn't really mentioned; I remember watching that Rolf Harris video at school with the song about not letting people touch your body, and I remember being at the park once and being told: if you see a man walking around and he's not got a dog, come and find one of us but other than that, nothing was ever discussed. However, so many revelations have come to light recently, it seems it was rife both during my childhood and earlier. Research suggests that at least one in 20 young adults in the UK experienced sexual abuse as a child, but most incidents are not reported to the police. Three-quarters of children who are abused do not tell anyone at the time. As a mother, these statistics scare the crap out of me.
So how do we protect our children? The truth is, we can't. A lot of predators attack children that are known to them: family friends, relatives, even their own children. They will tell the child it's "our little secret," and frighten them into not telling anyone.
The best thing we can do to protect our children is to talk about what's ok, and what's not ok - and make sure they know it's ok to tell if something happens that they're not comfortable with.
Many people might say "well, you don't need a book for that; you just have a conversation." But a lot of parents find this sort of thing really hard to talk about. I come from a family where even things like periods and sex were never, ever mentioned. Some people come from a background where difficult subjects are just not discussed, and they may find it really hard to find those words when it comes to discussing it with their own children. That is where this book comes in.
The book was written by ex-police officer Kate Power and her husband Rod Power. They've designed a fun and colourful book with a very important message. Kate says:
We've written My Underpants Rule! to help parents talk to their children from an early age about off-limits body parts, inappropriate behaviour and how to recognise if a relationship with an adult is not normal, ensuring these lessons stay with them for life.
The book begins with a note to parents, explaining how the book is supposed to work - that you're supposed to sit and read it with them, ask them the questions in the book and let them answer. The idea is that with repetition they learn the rule - the underpants rule!
The book starts off with an introduction about how the things in our pants have funny names and make funny noises. There's a rhyme about "what's under my pants belongs only to me" which makes a serious subject fun - the whole book is bright and colourful too.
Then it goes on to a series of questions: what if someone asks to take a look, what if someone touches, what if you're having trouble "with your fluffs or poops or wees" or what if someone touches you by accident? It ends by saying that it's about how it makes you feel, and that anything that makes you feel uncomfortable is not ok - and that you should tell someone who wasn't there when it happened.
My Underpants Rule! is aimed at 4-8 year-olds, so S is a little young for it yet. I intend to keep hold of our copy until she is old enough to understand though.
A personalised copy of the book is also available from U Star Novels.
Note: I was provided with a copy of this book for review, but all words and opinions are my own.