The Day the Dragon Came by Fanie Viljoen
Human & Rousseau
R96 at takealot.com
Two new kids’ books – one for girls and one for boys – by Fanie Viljoen tackle the subject of children being preyed on by sexual abusers and how they need to protect themselves from harm.
In this extract from the book for boys, a teacher has a talk with her class, offering parents a way in to the subject
Miss Arendse’s important lesson
By the following week, Kevin had forgotten about what had happened in the car. But in class, Miss Arendse said something that reminded him of the secret.
As usual, the teacher was standing in front of the blackboard. Her hair was neatly combed, her mouth pursed and red like a strawberry.
“Boys and girls, today we’re going to discuss something very important,” she said. She looked sternly around the class.
Kevin and Ethan looked at each other and frowned. Miss Arendse had never been so serious before.
“Today we’re going to talk about ourselves, about our bodies.” A few of the boys sniggered. Miss Arendse put two pictures on the board, one of a girl and one of a boy.
Some of the boys and girls giggled again, but they quickly stopped when Miss Arendse gave them a serious look. Then she went on.
“Our bodies belong to us. We need to look after them well. Other people are not allowed to touch us without our permission. Which parts of our bodies do you think I’m talking about?”
“Our noses,” answered one of the naughty boys in class.
Miss Arendse rolled her eyes. “No, Jack. I’m talking about ANY part of your body where someone else’s touch makes you feel uncomfortable or scared. But ESPECIALLY between your legs, your bottom and on your chest.”
Miss Arendse pointed to the pictures on the board again. “Only doctors and nurses are allowed to touch those areas if they have to examine us and make us well again.”
“Or someone who’s bathing us,” said one of the other boys, and everyone laughed again.
Miss Arendse frowned. “You’re all big children now. You can bathe yourself. Unless you’re sick or something and someone needs to help you. Right?”
“Yes, miss,” everyone chorused together.
“And we won’t allow other people to touch us there. Okay?”
Suddenly, Kevin thought back to that morning in the car. Uncle Jason had touched him between his legs. But that was an accident. He’d said he was sorry. And he was a nice man, wasn’t he?
No, he thought, no need to worry about Uncle Jason.
Miss Arendse cleared her throat to get everyone’s attention. “If anyone touches your body and you feel uncomfortable or afraid, remember this rhyme:
“My body’s my treasure, I’m proud as can be.
For ever and ever it belongs to me.
We all have a treasure, like silver and gold,
with fingers that tickle, and arms that will hold.
I don’t have to hug or cuddle or kiss you.
If I don’t feel safe, I really don’t need to.
I won’t keep bad secrets, I’ll blurt it right out:
If ever you hurt me, I’ll scream and I’ll shout!
A treasure is sacred, not a thing to neglect.
So please treat my body with love and respect.”
Miss Arendse made them repeat the poem over and over again in class. She listened until she was satisfied that they knew it by heart.
Then she put up a new picture. “Now I want to tell you about the SAFE HAND.”
Everyone put a hand up in the air as Miss Arendse showed them to do.
“If anything bad ever happens to you, you have to tell five people. One for every finger on your hand. If the first person can’t help, you have to tell the next person. And if he or she can’t help, you have to tell the next one. I want you to decide now who the people on your safe hand will be.”
Kevin thought and thought. He noticed that Ethan quickly wrote down five names.
Finally, Kevin’s list was done too.
Too late he remembered Uncle Jason. But now all his fingers were taken.
“Great,” said Miss Arendse when everyone was done. “Good work! Let’s see if you can remember that rhyme again.”
The class stood up and repeated the rhyme three times.
Later that afternoon, the words were still stuck in Kevin’s head. He looked at his Safe Hand and remembered the names.
If anyone tried anything funny with him, he would know exactly what to do.