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Child Abuse Awareness Month: Jayneen Sanders

Welcome back to Picture Book Therapy Thursday! This month we are focusing on books that can be used to help prevent child abuse or for children who have experienced abuse. Our first guest is the incredible Jayneen Sanders.

Jayneen Sanders is an experienced author, teacher, mother of three and a passionate advocate for empowering children through discussions on social and emotional issues, respectful relationships and personal body safety. For more information about Jayneen Sanders and her work go to

Jayneen does so much incredible work for children. For this interview, we focus in on her book "Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept".

"Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept" is a beautifully illustrated children's picture book that sensitively broaches the subject of keeping children safe from inappropriate touch.

We teach water and road safety, but how do we teach Body Safety to young children in a way that is neither frightening nor confronting?

This book is an invaluable tool for parents, caregivers, teachers and healthcare professionals to broach the subject of safe and unsafe touch in a non-threatening and age-appropriate way.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month so we are focusing on books that could be used to help prevent child abuse or with children who have been abused. Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept is a great fit for that. What inspired you to write that story?

When I was a young teacher, I came across a book called Keeping Children Safe by Dr Freda Briggs. I decided, when I had children, I would teach them these lessons in body safety. Many years later after my three daughters were born, I was on my children’s school council. I asked if we could teach body safety at the school and was constantly put to the bottom of the agenda. So, I decided to use my writing skills (as by then I was a children’s book author) to write a book so people would take notice of this issue of child sexual abuse. And that is how Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept was born.

Do you have a scene or a sentence in the book that is your favourite?

Probably the last page where little Sir Alfred is snuggled up in his bed and feels safe and warm. All children just want to feel heard and feel safe. By the way, I absolutely love the illustrations by Craig Smith. I was so fortunate that he agreed to illustrate this book.

Why do you think this book is important for kids to have on the shelves?

Because it broaches the subject of sexual abuse in an age-appropriate and non-threatening way. It is written as a fairy tale, set in a faraway land; so, for a child who may have been abused it adds distance to their own situation and yet they identify with Alfred and how he is feeling. For a child who has not been abused, it is just another story but the important message of never keeping unsafe secrets is never forgotten.

How do you think parents, teachers, or counselors could use Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept to engage in deeper conversations with kids?

Hopefully they take the time to unpack it slowly with the kids in their care and use the Discussion Questions and lesson plans provided. They also use the book and many of my other resources to have open and ongoing conversations with kids about unsafe secrets and inappropriate touch.

Do you have any advice for authors who want to write about tough topics for kids?

Be clear about your message and what you want children to ultimately understand and come away with. Make sure you write in a voice that children understand and relate to.

You have many other picture books about tough topics. Tell us about a few of your favorites.

Oh yes! I have lots! ☺ I really love Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect because it covers these important topics. I also love Talking About Feelings because it gives kids a voice and the vocabulary to talk about their emotions, and another favourite is Hope because it helps kids who are in domestic violence homes to understand that an adult’s anger is never ever their fault.

Do you have any upcoming projects you would like to share?

I have just released Little Big Chats which is a series of 12 books for kids 2 to 6. Each book covers ‘tricky’ topics such as consent, body safety, gender equality and social and emotional intelligence. The books are illustrated by good friend Cherie Zamazing and feature a diverse range of characters. We also have lots of free posters and resources on our website.

Where can we connect with you online to follow your work?

Our website is

FB Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept and also Educate2empower Publishing.

Instagram @jayneensandersauthor @educate2empower

Educate2empower Publishing has some wonderful resources for parents, teachers, and counselors! Check out their video "My Body Safety Rules" which could be used in conjunction with Jayneen's book.

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