A new illustrated self-help guide on body safety for children may just be the need of the hour amidst a rising number of abuse and harassment cases against the young…
A rise in the reported number of sexual abuse cases and harassment issues has riled up the nation’s conscience, and in many ways, Pakistan is finally waking up to a harsh reality it could have avoided. Reeling from the effects of turning into a society where a lack of understanding of such incidents is turning it into dangerous terrain for the youth, there are some who are trying to educate the young, en masse such as Jasmine Abraham with her new book, The Superhero is You.
Created as Pakistan’s premiere book for children on the concept of body safety, the guide brings forward a topic that many have chosen to turn a blind eye towards. Proving that it is the need-of-the-hour, the book comes at a time when the young need to understand these concepts the most – which could potentially be saviours for them in grave situations.
Divided amongst chapters and written in simple English and Urdu, the bilingual guide actually plays on the idea of superheroes – giving it relevance amongst a target audience that could easily understand the meaning behind the whole scenario. The illustrations too, play with a similar idea and help bring forward a better understanding of what each chapter tries to explain. Additionally, the book has also gone through a rigorous process, where it has been reviewed by psychologists such as Dr. Bibi Sabahat Shah who herself works with child and adolescent psychology.
Ranging from different ‘rules’, the guide covers a variety of topics such as a rule that explains we are the bosses of our own bodies – which helps children understand that they have a choice and agency, a rule that tells us that body parts are not for sharing – to help children understand the boundaries that need to be created between them and adults, and even a rule that helps them understand a body bubble and the concept of safe and unsafe touch.
The guide goes on explain a variety of different scenarios as well. In one of the rules, the book thoroughly provides step methods to help protect oneself, such as using our voices to shout no, using our ‘superpower’ to run away from that person to a ‘safe place’, and using our brave superpower (words) to tell an adult that we trust. Similarly it also helps build the concept of a safety circle amongst children by helping them understand how they can create a web of protection around them, which may include immediate family members.
What is interesting however is that the book also helps children understand situations that more often than not, are deemed unimportant or too small to discuss. Thus, this gives the guide an upper hand on its capability of helping us understand the intricacies of things that can possibly make a huge difference – such as perhaps the difference between surprise and a secret. Explaining that a surprise could be something that could be happy or fun such as a surprise birthday party, secrets could be something that are unsafe, wrong or uncomfortable – which may lean towards predatory behavior against the child.
There are many such rules explained further in the book, which all could be considered highly important for a child growing up in an age where such awareness can be brought to them without social stigmas and taboos which have mired the process in the past. Truly, Jasmine Abraham’s mission to create such a book has paved a way for many to start a dialogue in the right direction for the sake of their children’s future.
After all, it is not a reality that we are unaware of:just in Pakistan alone, there are 8 cases of abuse against children reported every day. This has gone on to see an increase over the last year in the pandemic, where statistics have shown that there was a 4 percent rise in such cases taking the chilling number to a brutal high.
If such cruel numbers –which go into the thousands each year – aren’t enough to help us bring some light to a grave situation, then we won’t have enough time in the future to save a generation with whom there’s still a chance to bring change with. Thus, when a book like The Superhero is You comes forward, there should be nothing but support to make it common knowledge that could be spread amongst the masses.