How to Protect Your Kids When You're Not Around

Educating children about sexual abuse is never easy - where do you even begin? This invaluable book will show you how.

Eliran Aharon ,

Israeli children (illustrative)
Israeli children (illustrative)

How can you protect your children when you're not around? It's a question that keeps any parent up at night, sometimes quite literally.

How to cross the road safely, avoiding talking to strangers - these are all relatively simply yet vitally important lessons in child safety every parent should impart to their children.

But one much tougher subject to broach is the issue of sexual abuse. According to Rabbi Yakov Horowitz - an educator and author of Let’s Stay Safe! - knowing about "stranger danger" isn't necessarily enough to protect young children from predators.

"Sadly, most people who abuse children are people who know them very well," Rabbi Horowitz noted.

His children's safety book has sold 30,000 copies in English and 5,000 in Yiddish, and has received endorsements from several leading rabbis in the US and Israel. Those same rabbis are now urging him to translate the book into Hebrew, hailing it as a vital tool to enable parents to keep their children safe.

Rabbi Horowitz has also produced a YouTube mini-series providing tips on child safety education.

Watch: "Child Safety on the Fly"

The friendly, illustrated book has some very simple lessons, informing children about the importance of not keeping secrets from their parents - even if urged to do so by someone they know - and making them aware of the difference between "good touching and bad touching."

One of the central lesson for children is that "your body belongs to you," and the knowledge that parents will always back them up if they feel the need to speak to them.

Let's Stay Safe! Courtesy

For parents, it's about empowering them to effectively approach a sensitive topic - which many would have no idea how to even begin to discuss with their children.

"Research shows that even one conversation with children with a moderate amount of follow up makes children six to seven times more likely to defend themselves God-forbid if someone starts up with them," Rabbi Horowitz told Arutz Sheva.

He warned that sheltering children only makes them more vulnerable to abuse.

"Parents often think 'We don't want to teach this to our children, we want to keep them sheltered and pure.' The problem is that children who are extremely sheltered are very vulnerable because... it's much easier for [predators] to start up with a child that doesn't know anything about anything."

The resource is surprisingly colorful and avoids scare-tactics - reflecting Rabbi Horowitz's extensive experience as an educator. Among other positions, he is founder and Dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, NY, and founder and Director of The Center for Jewish Family Life/Project YES, which conducts child abuse prevention and parenting workshops in Jewish communities around the world.

"Children don't remember things when they're frightened," he said. 

"The reason it's so effective is that predators, pedophiles, are afraid of children who have been educated, and they do things to find out which children talk to their parents regularly, which children know about their right to personal space, and pedophiles usual stay away from people like that."

Remarkably, Rabbi Horowitz says he has received 50 individual calls and emails from people telling him that his book saved their children from abuse.

"It's incredibly rewarding and very humbling to find out that you really can save a child's life simply by speaking to them and educating them in such an important manner," he said.

"It's important that parents feel empowered.

"All parents should know that you can do this - all you need to do is learn how to do it and have the right tools."