Imaginif prompts for daily writers.
If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the below photo (changes daily) as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and your link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Stories below are copyright and are Megan Bayliss' writing around the below daily picture prompt.

Megan is Away for Two Weeks

As the ticker above shows, I'm getting married in three days time. The house is chaotic and manic. I am running around like a mad woman in an attempt to finish all the fiddly things that make wedding ceremonies memorable for guests.

For the next two weeks I may not be on-line at all. I will be back from my honeymoon on Easter Monday and I look forward to seeing you all then.

Take care and stay safe. Remember to try and post your support of ending sexual violence on April 5, Blog Against Sexual Violence Day.

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo

Do You Know the BITSS to Keep Kids Safe?

Do you know what to teach your children to help keep them safe?

If you were sitting an exam could you write a paragraph on what to include in lessons on Protective Behaviours?

These questions motivated me to design an easy to remember model of what to teach about protective behaviours: all the BITSS you need to know to help keep kids safe.

The BITSS model of Protective Behaviours (copyright Megan Bayliss) examined a number of existing protective behaviour programs and took the major elements from each program. The elements were lumped into an easy acronym to help people remember what to do - what BITSS they need to cover.

These are the BITSS to help keep your kids safe (links to games and ideas on how to protectively play with each BITSS element):

Body Ownership:

(aka as early warning signs and feelings):


Say No:

Support Network:

Try these articles for some additional protective behaviour knowledge:

Wedding Reading from Children's Picture Book: Guess How Much I Love you.

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney is one of our family favorites. I gave a copy to my oldest daughter on her 16th birthday (she's now 24) and we consistently say to each other, "I love you stars and moons." This phrase is a direct link to how much we have all appreciated the potency of love expressions in Guess How Much I Love You.

It is fitting then, that this story becomes a reading at our rainforest waterfall wedding this Saturday. Here it is for you all to enjoy too:

by Sam McBratney
©1994 Sam McBratney

Little Nutbrown Hare, who was going to bed, held on tight to Big Nutbrown Hare's very long ears. He wanted to be sure that Big Nutbrown Hare was listening.

"Guess how much I love you," he said.

"Oh, I don't think I could guess that," said Big Nutbrown Hare.

"This much," said Little Nutbrown Hare, stretching out his arms as wide as they could go.
Big Nutbrown Hare had even longer arms. "But I love YOU this much," he said.

Hmm, that is a lot, thought Little Nutbrown Hare.

"I love you as high as I can reach." said Little Nutbrown Hare.
"I love you as high as I can reach," said Big Nutbrown Hare.

That is quite high, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I had arms like that.
Then Little Nutbrown Hare had a good idea. He tumbled upside down and reached up the tree trunk with his feet.

"I love you all the way up to my toes!" he said.
"And I love you all the way up to your toes," said Big Nutbrown Hare, swinging him up over his head.

"I love you as high as I can HOP!" laughed Little Nutbrown Hare, bouncing up and down.
"But I love you as high as I can hop," smiled Big Nutbrown Hare - and he hopped so high that his ears touched the branches above.

That's good hopping, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. I wish I could hop like that.

"I love you all the way down the lane as far as the river," cried Little Nutbrown Hare.
"I love you across the river and over the hills," said Big Nutbrown Hare.

That's very far, thought Little Nutbrown Hare. He was almost too sleepy to think any more. Then he looked beyond the thorn bushes, out into the big dark night. Nothing could be further than the sky.
"I love you right up to the MOON," he said, and closed his eyes.
"Oh, that's far," said Big Nutbrown Hare. "That is very, very far."

Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves. He leaned over and kissed him good night.

Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile, "I love you right up to the moon - AND BACK."

The Carnival of Australia Begins

Unlike the Seekers famous song, The Carnival is Over, the Carnival of Australia is beginning. After positive discussions with several Aussie bloggers, we are now seeking submissions from Aussie bloggers (and bloggers who have visited and blogged on their Australian experience) for our fortnightly Carnival of Australia.

Come on Aussie, come on. If you are an Aussie blogger, or you have blogged about something Australian, then Aunty Jack (not really, just me, Carnival organiser Megan Bayliss) wants YOU! Over shadowed by a sea of fair dinkum bloggers from America and England, Aussie bloggers sometimes splash about in the virtual surf trying to keep their blogs alive long enough for the snags to cook on the barbie.

Let's really make a lasting splash and snag some new readers. Australia is such a diverse country, we can share our diversity in thought and interest by showcasing the best of our Aussie blogs, and blogs about Australia, to the rest of the world. Let's celebrate what we think/talk about, what we do, how we live, our humour, culture, politics, music, technology, sport and how great it is to visit Australia, etc.

What is a Blog Carnival? A carnival is a collection of posts all in one place: a particular kind of blog community. There are many kinds of blogs, and they contain articles on many kinds of topics. Blog Carnivals typically collect together links pointing to blog articles on a particular topic (in our case: Australia). A Blog Carnival is like a magazine. It has a title ( in our case, Carnival of Australia), a topic (Australia, Australian bloggers and their diversity), editors (whoever hosts the carnival each fortnight), contributors (you), and an audience (the wider blogosphere). Editions of the carnival typically come out on a regular basis (e.g. every second Monday). Each Carnival edition is a special blog article that consists of links to all the contributions that have been submitted, often with the editors (hosts) opinions, remarks or themed musings.

To see a sample Carnival edition, click here or here.

The amount of information in the blog-o-sphere makes finding interesting stuff time consuming. If there is a carnival for a topic you are interested in (like Australia), following that carnival is a great way to learn what bloggers are saying about that topic, and often about you. If you are blogging on a specific topic, the carnival is the place to share your work with like-minded bloggers and readers. Our carnival will be blogs about Australia with a huge focus on the diversity of thought and blogs by Aussie bloggers.

Want to submit one of your blogs to the Carnival of Australia? Here's what to do:

  1. Choose a post you already have on your blog (you can also submit another person's worthy Aussie blog too), or write a new one and post it to your blog as usual. Use this submission form to nominate yours or someone else's Aussie blog musings or blog about Australia. Fill in all required fields. Make sure to use the permalink to your blog post (e.g. Decide which carnival category it fits best into (note, the categories are there as a guide only, if you don't fit a category, still submit under 'walkabout') from the drop-down menu. Leave a brief description of your blog and why it should be included into the Carnival of Australia (i.e., you an Australian blogger living in Australia or overseas, or, you blogged about Australia and would like to share it).
  2. Deadline for submissions is every second Monday by 5pm Australian time (begins April 23, 2007). Publication will be every second Wednesday (begins April 25, 2007).
  3. Think twice about submitting articles that are adult in nature, abusive or racist. If you go ahead and submit them do not expect to see them posted to the Carnival. Our convict past, is past. This Carnival will operate according to the strictest values of not harming other people. Further, any suggestive or suspicious activity involving children will be immediately reported.
  4. When you receive notice of Carnival of Australia publication, visit to check your post and to read the other submissions. Post a notice of the Carnival on your site so that your readers can all come celebrate the best of Australia as well.
  5. If you'd like to host the Carnival of Australia on your site, contact carnival organiser, Megan Bayliss, and we'll arrange it. Hosting the carnival will bring many new readers to your site.

Come on Aussie, come on: get those posts submitted (inaugural Carnival of Australia to be held on ANZAC Day, April 25, 2007). Help a mate, be a cobber and email this post to every other Aussie blogger or Australian travel writer you know.
Blog Carnival submission form - carnival of australia

Photo of Luna Park clown courtesy of horizonaus at stock.xchng

Courage to be Celebrated at Carnival

If you are feeling brave and looking for a new Carnival to submit your blogs to, why not consider the Carnival of Courage. This fortnightly Carnival features courage related posts: whether your own act of bravery, big or small or that of someone who has inspired you. Share your tales from the trenches as you wrestle with those things that are stretching and challenging you.

The most recent Carnival can be savoured over at The Dragon Slayer's Guide to Life. The Dragon Slayer has a strict one post policy but I submitted two because I just couldn't make my mind up about which one displayed the ultimate in strength conquering fear. Blow me down with a breath of dragon fire: the Dragon Slayer included both of them because she couldn't make up her mind either.

A bonus for me was that this particular Carnival lead me to Scott Davis at Finding Your Marbles. His Carnival submission, “How Winnie the Pooh Taught Me Courage” , is charming, entertaining and inspirational. His site is even better. Dedicated, real and helpful, I'm going to become a Finding Your Marbles regular.

So, be brave and shave or be brave and slay the metaphorical dragons by submitting your courage related posts to the next Carnival of Courage by April 1, 2007.

For those brave souls amongst us who are dedicated to slaying sexual violence, don't forget that it is Blog Against Sexual Violence Day on April 5, 2007. All you have to do is, on April 5, post a blog about your commitment to having communities free of sexual violence. The more brave people around who dare to speak their views about sexual predators being responsible for their violent actions, the quicker the perpetrators get the message that sexual violence will not be tolerated within our blogging community or the wider communities in which we all live. Get your Blog Against Sexual Violence Day banner from Abyss2Hope.

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo

How do You Display your Bottom Line on Protecting Children?

Only seven sleeps to go until our wedding in the rainforest underneath the spectacular Mungalli Falls. Both ceremony and reception are focused on children and we have several adventure based activities organised for the children. Last night, partner and I were going through music choices. Many songs were discarded because of the foul language and suggestive sexual adult content.

Discarding obscenities amused me. I swear like a trooper (it's an Aussie thing I think) but here I was tossing aside tracks that contain any inappropriate language or overt sexual references. What was going on? Am I really getting old and conservative like my kids have suggested?

It's about boundaries: physical and psychological. I have a fence around language I use when I'm with the gaggle and language I use when I'm around children. I do this because I accept that there are inherent differences between children and adults. I accept that I am the adult and it is my job to care for kids, not harm them.

Sexual predators and physical abusers of children do not have this boundary fence. Unable to delay their own gratification of breaking through the fence, they manipulate, lie, use and abuse. They desensitize and invest heavily in lead up behaviours: words or touches that may appear innocent but still leave the recipient feeling yucky. They will use language from popular culture - music, T.V, movies, and fashion - to further trick our children into thinking that the slimy predatory behaviours are normal, based in what everybody does, watches, wears and listens to.

There is no way that we will entertain inappropriate lyrics that children at our wedding may fall innocent victim to. There is no way that we would entertain anything that may potentially harm children at our wedding - including keeping kids safe around the waterfall. All we are doing is drawing the line in the sand and sticking with what we believe in as a family: child protection is serious business no matter where we are or what we may be doing.

Everybody has different lines in the sand but those lines generally have a great deal of thought put into them. Lines though, mean different things to different people and sometimes talking about those lines and why they are drawn where they are is the best way for others to know where your boundary is. Even bloggers talk about clear boundaries around what they will say/not say on their posts. Comments that require moderation prior to going live displays that the host has a psychological boundary and will probably not tolerate some comments. I particularly like the disclaimer found on Finding Your Marbles A Mental Health Survival Guide: "...Please do not force me to have to edit or remove your comments. No Spam please. Your mature and responsible replies are greatly appreciated by all. Thank you."

What's your boundary line around child protection and how do others know where it is?

Can We Stop Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is still not a topic discussed enough in family homes. Just as the dynamics of sexual abuse are shrouded in secrecy and manipulation, so too are many family conversations: particularly conversations around sexual abuse prevention. Parents often state they are scared of spoiling their children's innocence, scarring their kids or they don't see why they should talk about it because their kids are safe.

Child sexual abusers will take away your child's innocence. Children who know nothing of protective behaviours and the manipulating tactics of predators often are unaware that they are allowed to talk to their protective parents when and if something abusive happens. Scared and confused once something has happened, children who grow up in homes where sexual abuse prevention is not talked about may wrongly assume that abuse is a taboo subject. Perpetrators love this. Not talking about protection and prevention may make our kids fair game for perverts and manipulators. No child is safe from the threat of terrorism - including domestic terrorism.

Eighty five percent of reported child sexual abuse is perpetrated by somebody well known to the child: somebody that access our children on a regular basis and is welcomed into our safe homes and daily lives. Child protection is serious business and serious, good parents talk about serious and scary stuff because they know their children may be a risk from people they trust and love.

A new site has caught my attention: Teacher Smackdown. On the site, abusive teachers are named: those very people charged with protecting and encouraging our vulnerable children. To quote from the site: Anne-Marie Nichols is a 40-something award winning blogger, freelance copywriter, and WAHM to two young school age children. As a founding board member of a Colorado public charter school, she knows that most teachers are dedicated, hardworking professionals. Yet bad teachers exist, betraying the public trust one kid at a time. These are their stories.

Thank you Anne-Marie. You are providing a Protective Behaviour communication service that I hope parents will appreciate and learn from. Your post, Teaching Children About Sexual Abuse, is excellent and based in best practice. I encourage parents, everywhere, to read it.

Can we stop child sexual abuse? We can't because we are not responsible for the perpetrations: the sexual predators are. We can though, educate and protect our children by ensuring they know that sex is not a taboo subject and that some people use sex and touching in very bad ways. If a child is sexually abused it is NEVER their fault. Children need to know this prior to anything ever happening to them. Knowing you are not responsible makes it easier to go and tell someone about the bad stuff that has just happened.

Together we can impact upon the lower risk of our children being sexually abused. We can talk, we can educate, we can place the blame firmly where it belongs: on the shoulders of the sexual predators that trick us and our children into thinking that bad behaviours are acceptable.

If you have been sexually abused, it is not your fault. Please, go and talk to someone. Help us to break the vicious cycle of secrecy and in doing so, help protect all children.

For those interested in joining the call of safe communities with a zero tolerance to sexual crimes consider raising a blog about your thoughts, ideas, aspirations, experiences or even messages to predators. Held on April 5, 2007, Blog Against Sexual Violence day will be a force to be reckoned with. Proudly wear the available banner on your site. Together we will impact upon keeping our kids safe from sexual predators: no matter who or where they are.

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo

Teaching Emotional Intelligence for Personal Safety and Clear Communication

Emotional Intelligence includes teaching about and providing a range of feeling words to match to emotions and learning how to use them at the appropriate time. Our English language has over 2000 words to describe our feelings. Typically though, any of us will only ever use six words (three sets of opposites, i.e., hot/cold, happy/sad) in our feeling description repertoire.

Knowing what you are feeling is an important safety factor. Being able to identify those butterflies in your stomach as anxiety or the coldness sweeping over you as fear is similar to being able to identify that the bank account needs topping up: immediate action takes place.

Too many people are assaulted because they fail to read their feelings (intuition) around dubious people; those feelings are early warning signs to avoid, run or speak out. Similarly, many people don’t report assault because they become confused with their range of feelings and feel silly talking about what happened.

Emotional intelligence and particularly learning emotional language provides our children with tools for clear personal communication. The simple ABC formula for clear communication is made up of three statements surrounding:
  1. Affect (feelings) – I feel…,

  2. Behaviour (doing) – when you…

  3. Cognitions (thinking) – because…

Example: I feel confused when you try to touch my private parts because Mummy said nobody is allowed to touch me there.

Without a range of feeling words to use, children cannot clearly communicate what is happening inside them. The classic example is of a child who says they have a headache in their tummy. The child knows something feels yucky in their stomach but they don’t yet have the right word to match the feeling with.

In Game to Develop Emotional Intelligence and A Mime of Early Warning Information I provide a couple of games designed to stimulate easy teachable moments around learning new feelings words. I will feel estatic when you teach them to your children because it will provide another layer of protection for the world’s children.

Have you seen the beaut posters depicting feeling faces? Very handy as emotional prompts for learning and remembering, we have them plastered all over our walls at home. I feel proud that my children have an excellent grasp on emotional language and the kids are my evidence that teaching emotional intelligence leads to well adjusted children.

What do you do to instill emotional language and clear communication into your child’s vocabulary? I'd love to know because then I can teach your ideas to other parents I come into contact with. Why not consider entering your ideas into the book competition: WIN a Children’s Chapter Book (Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast) for Yourself and Your Local Library.

Here's some other helpful articles I've written on emotional intelligence and feelings:

Emotional Intelligence and Clear Communication
Make a difference in another child's life: Actively listen to them.
Do You Get Angry with Your Child? I Do, Because Anger is a Natural Feeling.

Here's the link to a free sheet of Feeling Faces from Adoption Crossroads.

WIN a Children’s Chapter Book (Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast) for Yourself and Your Local Library


Win two copies of Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast: one for you and one for your local library of choice.

Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast by Megan Bayliss is a tall tell-tale and endearingly stirring children’s read. The 109 page, paperback, children’s book sensitively addresses important protective behaviour strategies aimed at protecting children from hidden harms. The story gives children in the 8-12 year old age group an opportunity to growl against those seemingly sweet monsters that hide within our utopia waiting to change ripeness for life into a rancid, rotting mass of fly blown waste.

Read a media review of Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast here.

Value of prize A$38.00.

To enter the competition:
  1. Post a new blog about how you have taught protective behaviours or personal safety around child sexual abuse to your children (blog must be posted after today 21.3.07).
  2. Link your blog back to this competition.
  3. Leave a comment here so that Imaginif staff knows you have entered the competition, can read your entry and choose a winner.

The winning entry will be judged (by Imaginif Protective Behaviour staff) on:

  1. sensibly addressing child sexual abuse prevention,
  2. the inclusion of more than stranger danger information (85% of reported sexual abuse is perpetrated by somebody well known to the child), and,
  3. will offer an idea that other parents can use with their children.

You can only enter once and the judge’s decision is final.

Both copies of Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast will be sent to the winner. The winner can then present their book donation to the local library of their choice.

The winner can also place a Dogsbody Army Award winners graphic on their blog entry and in the side bar of their site. Graphic will be emailed to winner.

Entry nominations must be received in the comments section below by 5 pm Wednesday 28th of March 2007 (Australian time, Tue 27th America). Winner will be announced Friday 30th March. Books will not be posted until Tuesday 10th April (because I will be on my honeymoon).

Good luck and get “protective behaviouring.” If you’re looking for some ideas to stimulate teaching protective behaviors to your kids, check out these activities and games:
Say No to Hang Man.
A Protective Play Tutorial for Grandparents.
A Mime of Early Warning Information.
Chatterbox Play: A Touching Experience.
Good Touch Bad Touch

How to Contact Oprah Winfrey to Seek Support of Purse for a Curse.

Purse for a Curse is a fundraiser that Imaginif is this year holding for the Abused Child Trust. My partner and his business colleagues have been approaching many high profile Australians – politicians, sporting heroes, singers and actors. Not one person approached has yet refused to donate a used wallet or purse to be sold at an on-line auction. Congratulations and thank you to those people: busy and constantly approached to sponsor, support or mentor a plethora of good causes, I am grateful that child sexual abuse prevention and treatment factors high in their giving.

A donation of a used wallet, purse or bag costs the famous person nothing. However, the funds that the same used accessory can bring may help thousands of children. The recognition of ability to use their fame for good, rather than for pretentious or high revenue return, is what sets these people out as extraordinary.

Our intention is to mount the Purse for a Curse campaign into full swing in late April, 2007. Working with the Abused Child Trust, our company, Imaginif, will host the event and donate profits to the Abused Child Trust (the charity that we donate to will change each year).

Imaginif staff each has a goal in terms of whose purse they consider the pinnacle donation for 2007. My pinnacle is a used purse or wallet from Oprah Winfrey. A survivor and proud and open supporter of child sexual abuse prevention, I know that Oprah’s used purse will be a highly sought after auction item. My difficulty is that I cannot easily access her.

I seek the help of readers. Somebody somewhere has access to Queen Oprah. Who and how do I access to ask for a donation of a used purse or bag? Queries through the web site have proven unsuccessful. A letter to Harpo has not been responded to. Not one to be put off by a couple of set backs, I am determined to allow Oprah first refusal on donating a single used item to be used for a social issue that she already believes in supporting.

Can anyone suggest anything? How do I contact Oprah Winfrey?

Consensual Sex with an Adult Step-Child: Acceptable or Not?

Is it okay to have consensual sex with an adult step-child? Ohio (U.S.A) man, Paul Lowe, has gone to jail for engaging in consensual sex with the 22-year-old daughter of Lowe's wife: his stepdaughter. Lowe argued that the relationship was consensual and that because she was an adult, the “incest statute […] to protect children against adults in positions of authority over them” did not apply to his case. Lowe was unsuccessful in his appeal that “barring consensual sex between an adult stepparent and stepchild was unconstitutional.” The opinion summary (including the direct quotes above) can be viewed at Law Barring Consensual Sex Between Stepfather and Adult Stepdaughter Upheld as Constitutional.

Legal opinion aside, debate around sex with adult children of a relationship (step-children, adoptive children, foster children, or natural children) raises a number of social concerns for me. What is the fabric of marriage made of: law, morals or ethics? Can this fabric be stretched to suit the lustful or conjugal needs of any family member? Was Lowe still in a cohabiting marriage with the stepdaughter’s mother? How long had the relationship been going on for? Was it really consensual or had family dynamics acted to sway the stepdaughters view of acceptable/unacceptable? What was the relationship between mother and daughter? Did the wife know of the affair between her husband and daughter or was it hidden and illicit? What is the social/religious/legal history of Ohio in relation to sex crimes?

My views on incest and child sexual abuse are very clear. Similarly, rape in marriage is a crime where I live and I fully support the abhorrence of rape in any relationship. Opportunistic prostitution (the exchange of sex for a concrete commodity – roof over your head, hot meal or shower, etc) is a recognised youth sub culture and funding is pored into services to provide young people with alternatives to opportunistic prostitution.

Despite my clear beliefs, I still find myself seeking more information to fill in the gaps behind Lowe’s case – how consensual is consensual and how did the relationship occur? Curious, I sought comment from the man I am about to marry. He also was unable to answer immediately: is it acceptable to enter into a consensual sexual relationship with an adult stepchild? He required time to think through the issues rather than knee jerk an emotive response. Neither of us can conceive of ever having sex with our adult stepchildren or entering into sexual relationships with any extended family member. In our view (albeit without all of the social answers to my above queries), it is incest.

Lowe has broken the law and is being punished. I am interested in your opinion. Do you think it is okay to have consensual sex with an adult step-child? Why/why not?

Photo by Megan: Step father and adult step daughter on her wedding day.

One Little Boy Shaves for a Cure to Help Sick Kids.

Thumbs up to my youngest child. Emotionally intelligent (sometimes!) and full of empathy for others, he today Shaved for a Cure. He raised $170.00 for the Leukaemia Foundation, simply by being brave and getting shaved. Well done darling. I am very proud of you.

I wasn't too keen on his choice of haircut immediately before our wedding (13 sleeps to go) but at least he has followed his beliefs about caring, giving and supporting others in need: especially sick kids.

Since shedding his locks, he has been walking around the house saying, "I feel happy I helped." The development of a giving culture started at birth with all of my children. Each has different areas they support and are willing to raise consciousness in. My oldest daughter supports my efforts in child sexual abuse prevention and she encourages her work team to support the Abused Child Trust. The next son down supports animals, youth suicide prevention and anything to do with aged care. Daughter three is right into St Vincent de Paul's and supports their many community initiatives. She also likes to support animal shelters. Child number four (pictured) will happily empty his pocket money into anything that heps kids (check his hair raising story out at Boy Shaved for a Cure - Right Before the Wedding).

I am proud to have raised such caring children. I just hope they're willing to care for me too when I'm old and senile!

Do you teach your children about the importance of giving? How do you do it and how do you make a choice about who to support?

Related parenting article on giving:

International Social Work Day. Social Workers do it with International Relations.

Social Workers do it with international relations. No, I'm not talking about incest. International Social Work day falls on March 27th. A day to celebrate the amazing advances Social Work has contributed globally in areas of equality, social justice, community development, research and policy, improving the lives of individuals, rights and education, International Social Work day celebrates each social workers ability in making a difference on a world wide scale. Further, International Social Work day (dated to fall in conjunction with United Nations Social Work day) is a day for local and national social work chapters to highlight concerns and activities of social workers to the wider public.

My blog, Child Protection: Serious Business, is my global social bookmark for highlighting my concerns: sexual assault, particularly child sexual assault, must be prevented. Sexual assault knows no cultural or class bounds. It happens across the globe. Many bloggers, both social workers and non social workers are using the medium of blogs to raise awareness. Join us on April 5, 2007, in a concentrated and global focused voice that demands safe communities with a zero tolerance toward sexual violence.

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo

As a student social worker, I never once considered that I was working toward a career and area of focus that could travel internationally. However, after having had job offers from both the USA and a Scandinavian country and having worked in child protection in London, I soon realised the full potential of keeping my finger on the pulse of international social work.

Would I work internationally again? Yes, at the drop of a hat. I loved the challenge to my practice, the new cultures and people I was exposed to and the different ways of approaching systemic injustices.

If you are interested in doing social work, consider the exciting and stimulating career path way of working internationally in your chosen area of social passion. International social work practice not only closes the gap that the trappings of globalisation has helped widen, it broadens the mind and cements core social work values and ethics.

Social Work journals are filled with agency adds seeking qualified social workers to fill posts in many overseas countries. What a way to see the real world and to grow both your skill level and sense of self. Biggest bonus though, is that you get to positively impact upon another person's/community's/organisations ethical, moral or self discerning advancement within their own cultural and social positioning.

To find out more about what international social work is and offers, have a look at these sites:

Social Work World
International Federation of Social Workers
Australian Association of Social Workers
British Association of Social Workers
Ozone Recruitment
Association of Social Work Boards
Everyone needs therapy
International Association of Schools of Social Work

Who is your Child Innocently Telling Too Much To On-Line?

Shannon could hear the footsteps behind her as she walked toward home.

The thought of being followed made her heart beat faster.

"You're being silly," she told herself, "No one is following you."

To be safe, she began to walk faster, but as the footsteps kept pace with her she was afraid to look back and was glad that she was almost home. Shannon said a quick prayer "God please get me home safe."

She saw the veranda light burning and she leaned against the door for a moment, relieved to be in the safety of her own home. She glanced out the window to see if anyone was there. The footpath was empty...

After tossing her books on the lounge room table she decided to grab a snack and get on-line.

She logged on under her screen name "ByAngel213."

She checked her Messenger list and saw her on-line friend "GoTo123" was on.

She sent him an instant message - ByAngel213: Hi. I'm glad you are on! I thought someone was following me home today. It was really weird!

GoTo123: LOL You watch too much TV. Why would someone be following you? Don't you live in a safe neighbourhood?

ByAngel213: Of course I do. LOL I guess it was my imagination cuz' I didn't see anyone when I looked out.

GoTo123: Unless you gave your name out on-line. You haven't done that have you?

ByAngel213: Of course not. I'm not stupid you know.

GoTo123: Did you have a netball game after school today?

ByAngel213: Yes and we won!!

GoTo123: That's great! Who did you play?

ByAngel213: We played the Hornets. LOL. Their uniforms are so gross! They look like ice-skaters. LOL

GoTo123: What is your team called?

ByAngel213: We are the Liverpool Cats. We have tiger paws on our uniforms. They are really cool.

GoTo123: Did you shoot goals?

ByAngel213: No I play Goal Defence. I've got to go. My homework has to be done before my parents get home. I don't want them cranky at me. Bye!!!

GoTo123: Catch you later. Bye.

Meanwhile, GoTo123 went to the member menu and began to search for her profile. When it came up, he highlighted it and printed it out. He took out a pen and began to write down what he knew about Angel so far:

Her name: Shannon

Birthday: Jan. 3, 1991

Age: 13

State where she lived: New South Wales

Hobbies: Netball, Movies, skating and going to the mall.

Besides this information, he knew she lived in Liverpool because she had just told him.

He knew she stayed by herself until 6:30p.m. every afternoon until her parents came home from work.

He knew she played netball on Thursday afternoons on the school team, and the team was named the Liverpool Cats.

Her favourite position GD was printed on her uniform.

He knew she was in the eighth grade at the Liverpool High School.

She had told him all this in previous conversations they had had on-line.

He had enough information to find her now.

Shannon didn't tell her parents about the incident on the way home from netball that day. She didn't want them to make a scene and stop her from walking home from the courts. Parents were always overreacting and hers were the worst. It made her wish she was not an only child. Maybe if she had brothers and sisters, her parents wouldn't be so overprotective.

By Thursday, Shannon had forgotten about the footsteps following her.

Her game was in full swing when suddenly she felt someone staring at her. It was then that the memory came back. She glanced up from her Goal Circle position to see a man watching her closely. He was leaning against the seats at the end of the Court and he smiled when she looked at him. He didn't look scary and she quickly dismissed the fear she had felt.

After the game, he sat in the stand while she talked to the coach.

She noticed his smile once again as she walked past him. He nodded and she smiled back. He noticed her name on the back of her shirt. He knew he had found her. Quietly, he walked a safe distance behind her. It was only a few blocks to Shannon's home, and once he saw where she lived he quickly returned to the park to get his car. Now he had to wait.

He decided to get a bite to eat until the time came to go to Shannon's house. He drove to the Burger joint and sat there until time to make his move.

Shannon was in her room later that evening when she heard voices in the lounge-room.

"Shannon, come here," her father called. He sounded upset and she couldn't imagine why.

She went into the room to see the man from the netball courts sitting on the lounge chair.

"Sit down," her father began, "this man has told us a most interesting story about you."

Shannon sat back. How could he tell her parents anything? She had never seen him before today!

"Do you know who I am, Shannon?" the man asked.

"No," Shannon answered.

"I am a police officer and your online friend, GoTo123."

Shannon was stunned. "That's impossible! GoTo is a kid my age! He's 14 and he lives in Hobart!"

The man smiled. "I know I told you all that, but it wasn't true. You see, Shannon, there are people on-line who pretend to be kids; I was one of them. But while others do it to find kids and hurt them, I belong to a group of parents who do it to protect kids from predators. I came here to find you to teach you how dangerous it is to talk to people on-line. You told me enough about yourself to make it easy for me to find you. Your name, the school you went to, the name of your Netball team and the position you played. The position and name on your jersey just made finding you a breeze."

Shannon was stunned. "You mean you don't live in Hobart?"

He laughed. "No, I live in Sydney, It made you feel safe to think I was so far away, didn't it?"

She nodded.

"I had a friend whose daughter was like you. Only she wasn't as lucky. The guy found her and murdered her while she was home alone. Kids are taught not to tell anyone when they are alone, yet they do it all the time on-line. The wrong people trick you into giving out information a little here and there on-line. Before you know it, you have told them enough to find you without even realizing you have done it. I hope you've learned a lesson from this and won't do it again. Tell others about this so they will be safe too. Promise?"

That night Shannon and her dad and Mum all knelt down together and thanked God for protecting Shannon from what could have been a tragic situation.

The above story was forwarded to me by a young women who learnt the hard way about sharing too much information on-line. She asked me to share it with readers, to ask them to email it to their children so that the kids will at least read it and not just try to get away from a Mum and Dad, face to face lecture.

Rather poignant I thought. How about you? What do you think of it?

If you need some help around kids on-line and ANY suspicious activity please go directly to the Virtual Global Taskforce Against On-Line Sexual Exploitation of Children and report the suspicious activity. Do not wait for something to happen.
Here's some other very helpful sites concerned with on-line sexual predators accessing our kids:

Netalert (Australia)
Thinkuknow (U.K)
Netsmartz (U.S.A)
Kid Proof Safety (Canada and U.S.A)
Cybertip (Canada)

Seventh Generation Heaven for Homeless Women in North America.

Thumbs up to Seventh Generation. Their corporate social responsibility extends beyond caring for the environment to caring for homeless women’s sanitary needs.

A simple donation program on their site encourages a click for a box of FREE environmentally safe sanitary products delivered to a shelter in the state of your choice (U.S.A).

Seventh Generations click for feminine products program is currently suspended while they clear the backlog of boxes to be donated. The success of the giving program is due to people like us, each wanting to do their bit to help others. Sign up for Seventh Generations free newsletter so that you know when the backlog has cleared and they are ready to receive your click.

Feminine hygiene products are expensive and an item that women cannot go without. When women flee their homes because of domestic violence or sexual assault, feminine products are not necessarily one of those items on the “I must grab now” list.

While many shelters make provision for supplying feminine products, the shelters still operate on tight budgets where every cent spent is at the cost of something else. Donations of any new hygiene products are always gratefully received.

Collecting the complementary bottles of shampoo and soaps provided at hotel/motels is another simple way to give to shelters or rape crisis centers. Many frequent fliers collect the complimentary goods and when they have a bag full, they take them to a women’s or children’s shelter. A fantastic thing to do that costs you nothing, please consider it when you next travel.

Many thanks to Thrifty Mommy for raising my consciousness about Seventh Generations excellent display of corporate social responsibility.

Another click for help program you may want to consider can be found in Click for Kids at the Child Health Site.

I’ve always said I wished I could click my fingers and make the world a safer place. Now we can all click away and spread the magic of caring and helping others. Who is going to click with me?

What's Worthy of a Hot Stuff Award? Parenting is.

My greatest award and reward is my partners decision to marry me/us (six kids and me last of all). As I'm sure most people know, I'm getting married in 16 sleeps time. Our wedding is focused on the comfort of our guests, 30% of which are children. We think it's quite acceptable to have children at weddings and judging from article response, so do you.

Somebody has nominated my post, Children at Weddings: Acceptable or Non-Acceptable? for a Hot Stuff award from GNMParents. WOW! I am absolutely chuffed. Thank you to who ever it was.

The award works on a voting system. The post with the most votes wins an, "I'm Hot Stuff" button to wear on their blog site. There are four articles nominated. Head on over to GNMParents, read the posts and cast your vote.

I was also chuffed yesterday to receive a letter from one of our local politicians telling me I was nominated for an International Women's Day Award. WOW. That really blew me away. I was humbled, honoured and disbelieving all at the same time. The letter (pictured) will go into my precious box for safe keeping for ever.

I don't do the work I do for award, recognition or self gain. I work tirelessly for child safety because I want the world to be a better place for our kids. Whereas I see child sexual abuse prevention as the most important thing for me to do, I am thankful that there are other people who work to develop cures for disease, feed the homeless and starving, or protect our environment from total destruction. Without a healthy environment our kids wont have food to eat or parks to play safely in.

The awards though, need to go to the everyday parents who strive to keep their children safe. Parents worldwide are teaching their kids about personal safety, ensuring healthy diets, putting shoes and warm clothes on, celebrating rather than berating and loving, hugging and talking. These are the actions worthy of award.

Thank you to the person who nominated my article for the GNMParents Award and thank you to the person who has already voted for it. Even though I have no idea who you are, you guys are just the best. To my children and my divine partner: I love you all the way up to the moon, around the sun and stars and all the way back again.

And....WE WON! Thank you to all who voted.

Related article and unsolicited praise from my youngest child: How To Be A PERFECT Mother

The Blogging Community Blogs Up Against Sexual Violence

Do you give a blog about sexual violence? Marcella Chester from Abyss2hope does and she is coordinating a Blog Against Sexual Violence event. The goal is to get as many bloggers as possible to participate. If you're a blogger and you give a blog, then that means you.

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo

This is the perfect opportunity for bloggers to come together as a united community: to have a single voice in saying that sexual violence will not be tolerated. For too long victims have been blamed, maligned and ostracised. No more! Rape and sexual violence is the responsibility of the perpetrator, NEVER the victim. Bloggers scream with opinion and consciousness raising. Bloggers are the social marketers of the here, now and future. Make your voice count. Join the Blog Against Sexual Violence event to be held on April 5, 2007

The 2007 Sexual Assault Awareness Month (United States) campaign national slogan for this April is: Prevent Sexual Violence…in our communities. As a community of bloggers we can raise the banner and demand zero tolerance of sexual violence in our on-line community and real time communities world wide.

Not one to be left out of any initiatives involving protection of children, particularly child sexual abuse, I will be waving my flag and focusing on placing blame where it belongs: on the sexual predators that troll the paths our children tred. While one, five or twelve people can make a difference, the combined cry of protecting all people is strengthened by numbers. I invite you to join the Blog Against Sexual Violence and do your bit for making the world a safer and more equitable place for men, women and children. All you have to do is wave the banner and write a post about ending sexual violence.

Can you afford not to be seen participating in this sexual violence prevention initiative? Often the silent majority is taken to be supporting the status quo. Given the high numbers of sexual violence there is no way I would ever want to be mistaken as not caring about, or supporting entrenched sub cultures of sexual violence. If you are thinking the same way, visit Abyss2hope and grab the html code to place the Blog Against Sexual Violence banner on your site. Be seen as against obscene: visually display your commitment to creating a world free of sexual abuse. Individual, business or corporate entity, here is your opportunity to silently speak up without it costing you a cent.

Prevent sexual our communities, in our blogs, and in our world.

Dress your blog with a banner against sexual violence.

FREE Short Film Competition for Queensland Young People.

Do you know a young person who may like to enter a short film competition? I have just recieved some information about an exciting free short film competition available for young people aged from 12 - 18 years.

The Police Citizen Youth Club Short Film Competition is a state wide (Queensland, Australia) competition aimed at young people between the ages of 12 and 18 years. The competition is designed to help make our youth of today aware of the current social issues many young people face on a daily basis and to provide an alternate solution.

The competition will address the following issues:

  • Youth Violence
  • Youth Driving Issues (Fatalities and Hooning)
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse / Abuse by Youth

Entry into the competition is FREE and the closing date for Expressions of Interest is the 5th of April, 2007.

More information, entry forms and conditions are available from
Louise Parkes, Co-Chairperson, TILT (Tomorrow's Inspired Leaders Today)
or phone her at 07 3357 1850

Georgie Girl. An Interview with a Young Woman Meeting her Mother After Georgie Has Grown Up In Out of Home Care

Megan: You grew up without a Mum and Dad to care for you. You had to live with several other families over the years. What was it like being a foster child?
Georgie: It was the only thing I really knew. I knew from a small age that my Mum and Dad couldn't care for me. They wanted the best for me so they put me somewhere they knew I would be looked after and get the things they knew they wouldn't be able to give to me.

Megan: Did you feel different not having a Mum and Dad?
Georgie: Hell yeah. I knew I was unique, different from other kids. I felt outta place and always aware that other kids thought I was different with not having a Mum or Dad like they did.

Megan: How often did Mum or Dad have contact with you?
Georgie: Between the ages of four to seven I saw Mum regularly (sporadic weekends) and then I didn't see her again until I was fourteen. I have not seen my Dad since I was about three. I am now about to turn 21 and I am today meeting my Mum for the first time in seven years.

Megan: Tell me what that's like for you after such a long time.
Georgie: I am as nervous as hell. Last time I saw Mum I was only a kid and seven years is a long time. I'm now an adult. I feel sorry for Mum but her past life is not the life I want to lead. I'm not angry at her but I am disappointed that it's taken her twenty years to get to know her own daughter.

Megan: What would make things right between you and Mum?
Georgie: It's not about making things right between us, it's about Mum making an effort to know who I am, what makes me tick and the hurt I have suffered. I want her to want to get to know me. I really want to get to know her but it is more important for her to want to know me. She has to make the effort here to make up for all that I've lost out on.

Megan: What do you think your emotions will be like when you meet Mum today?
Georgie: I think I'll turn into the little girl that's been lost inside for so long, the little girl that has been wanting to be with her Mum.

Megan: Have you got support today as you re meet your Mum after seven years?
Georgie: Yeah, one of my ex foster carers is coming with me. I still live with her, even though I'm no longer a kid in care. She's met my Mum. She helped to find and get my Mum up to meet my brother and I seven years ago.

Megan: You are a remarkable young woman; strong, sensible, good work ethic. You have done it yourself. What is it in you that has helped to keep you so focused?
Georgie: I've been lucky that I've had my family (Aunt and Uncle) to help me be the person I am. Having some family around gave me a sense of who I am, where I came from and that I had an alternate way to live life.

Megan: Do you have a message to give to other foster carers?
Georgie: Family is the most important aspect of everybody's life. Even if some parents are incapable of looking after their children, the kids still have a right to know where they came from. Blood is thicker than water. Helping the foster kids to somehow stay in touch with their family is important for healing all the hurt that kids in care suffer with. Sometimes it may be a positive, sometimes negative, but kids have the right to know who they belong to. I want to belong in a family - my family, even if they can't look after me.

Megan: Do you have a message for foster kids, kids like you who grew up in out of home care?
Georgie: At times it may seem like you have been abandoned but a positive way of thinking around your situation is that parents aren't doing this because they don't want you. They want a better life for you that they just can't give. You can make your time in care an experience of learning to make your life with your own future family better or you can stay as a buggered up kid in care that nobody loves, nobody wants and so start the whole cycle of abandonment over again. You have two roads to choose: the nice, straight one or the bumpy, windy, steep one. Life is about decision making. Start by trying to make the right decisions to make life a little easier.

Many thanks to Georgie for being brave enough to share her thoughts on this day of extreme emotional turmoil. My thoughts are with you Georgie.
Please leave Georgie a message if her words have spoken to you.

Photo of Georgie picked by Georgie. She likes it because even though it's her, she can still keep other bits hidden, waiting to be discovered. Georgie's words, "It's a piece of art."

What Inspires You to Protect Children?

Carnival of Family Life organiser, Kailani over at An Island Life, is running a photo competition around "What inspires you?" Always interested in market research around what inspires individuals and businesses interested in preventing child sexual abuse, I spent a moment reflecting on why I am inspired to give my career, my life, my passion to working against child abuse.

I am inspired by the sun rising every day and providing us with yet another day to make a difference in the life of a child, somewhere. Working in the area of child sexual abuse prevention and counselling is fraught with many black moments. How easy it would be for me to become bitter, cynical and disempowered? How easy it would be for me to say, "too hard, there's no thanks and certainly little remuneration in this, I'm out of here."

Rather than give up, I end and begin my days with reading other socially conscious bloggers thoughts, ideas and commitments. I seek comfort in knowing that the issues that I am unable to contribute to are being championed by others. The colourful quilt of days beginning and end reminds me that blackness can only be contrasted against light and beauty and that it is acceptable to view the world through rose coloured glasses. This is my inspiration and my vitamin boost of care for kids at risk.

Without sunset to end my busy work day, I cannot begin refreshed tomorrow. As my sun sets and I prepare for bed, the sun rises on the other side of the world and the second shift of global workers fighting to make the world a safer place for our kids begins.

This is my inspiration. What inspires you to protect children? Head on over to An Island Life and vote for inspiration.

Photo by Megan. Sunset over Magnetic Island.

Related articles with some inspiring comments from readers:

Socially Responsible Investing and Philanthropic Giving

Individual fiscal increases are not the only motivating factor for investors. Many people give because they want to make the world a better place, because they have received assistance and are now prepared to give back to community, or because they just give a damn about the plight of people. This is socially responsible investing.
Even though my area of giving continues to be child sexual abuse, I am heartened that so many others have found their area of commitment that they support in whatever way they can.

I have just discovered a Giving Carnival: a collection of blogs written from a philanthropic view. Interesting and thought provoking I have checked links and blog rolls and am amazed at the number of people writing about giving.

In Philanthropy Blogs Growing Influence Sean Stannard-Stockton makes reflective comment on the maturation process of giving blogs. In a similar vein I reflected on How to Attract Site Traffic to Child Protection or Sexual Abuse Blogs.

Social topics and social giving appear to fall into three conversation areas: those who care and are passionate about their subject, those who care and give because it is trendy, and those who have a little interest but it is just all too confronting. Regardless of what fuels an individual to help others, Social topic blogs and Philanthropic Giving are not trends that will disappear.

I invest a good deal of time in maintaining my blogs, on top of home schooling my child with special needs and working part time in my consultancy business. Frequently frustrated by time deficits and a desire to do more I rely on others to also do their bit to make the world safer and more palatable for our children. Together, we can do it.

A recent reader has shared her commitment to the School of St Jude with me. On the other side of the world, her in-kind commitment helps to publicize the plight of at risk children in Tanzania. Gillian’s profile, “We can make a difference by giving vulnerable children a good education. The School of St Jude does this in Arusha, Tanzania. Add your support, tell others, make your efforts count,” resonated strongly with me and in an upcoming blog I will assist Gillian in assisting the children in Tanzania.

I encourage you all to consider your tactics of Socially Responsible Investing and Philanthropic Giving. Are your hands for helping or hurting? And…thanks for reading. Becoming socially informed is a first step on the ladder of giving back to those who need it.

Photo "A Helping Hand" courtesy of NCrotty at stock.xchng

Children at Weddings: Acceptable or Non-Acceptable?

WINNER of the GNMParents

Our home is a full on wedding planner battle zone. We are getting married this month in destination Rainforest, below a magnificent waterfall (pictured).

The wedding is a child-focused event (I have four children plus two now out of care, foster children). My eleven year old is best man and in charge of the Laser Tag Buck’s party. He is also responsible for dispersing the numerous varieties of glow sticks, bracelets, and necklaces while the adults sit and sing around a huge bonfire. My eldest daughter is giving her stepfather away and my eldest son is giving me away. The six children will be standing up with my partner and I – my partner is marrying a family, not just me.

Following the wedding picnic lunch and while adults are toasting with champagne, making speeches and being thoroughly boring in their adult kind of way, fully supervised activities for the kids include archery, a wet slip and slide and a flying fox. We have karaoke and a DVD organised for later in the evening following a BBQ tea.

Children are important to me and I cannot imagine not having a family focused wedding with a major concentration on children. However, some interesting child protection concerns have arisen surrounding having children at weddings.

We wanted to have corroboree (Australian Aboriginal story telling dance) but the dance troupe of my choice said that they don’t take their children dancers to weddings because of the risk of exposing the children to excessive alcohol consumption, fights and abuse. Fair point and one that I had not previously considered.

Many of our friends have also stated that they won’t be bringing their children to our wedding in the rainforest. Their reasons were mixed (some alcohol consumption related) but most stated that they cannot conceive of attending a wedding with their own children. It is not that they dislike kids or have anything against other people taking children; they just don’t want to take their own because they’d like to relax and let their hair down.

We’re not changing our plans. We welcome children at our wedding and have designed the function to be safe, family friendly and enjoyable for both adults and children. This is not a new thing for us. When we launched my children’s book (Bitss of Caramel Marmalade on Toast) the entire launch was facilitated by children. I believe in children and I will always support child safety and developmentally appropriate functions.

With developmentally appropriate functions in mind, I am curious about your thoughts on children at weddings: Acceptable or non-acceptable?

Related Wedding article from my eleven year old son's site:

GNMParents said...
Congratulations this post has been nominated for a Hot Stuff Award at GNMParents ( closes Friday. Good Luck

Poll: Choose your Hot Stuff Winner

Teach Your Child About Predators.

Predators are everywhere; in the ocean, in the air and on our streets. Sexual Predators are often in our homes or in places our children frequent.

Protect your children by teaching them about predators. When talking about predators of the ocean or air let your children know that some humans are also predators, sexual predators, and that they prey on children.

The aim of protective behaviours is not to scare children but to give them life skills in personal safety. It is not a child’s job to protect them selves. Sexual abuse is always the responsibility of the perpetrator: a child sexual predator.

It is a child’s right to live a life free of harm. With rights comes responsibility. Children, by design, are irresponsible. Responsibility is a concept that is learnt. If parents are unable to teach children about the responsible actions of personal safety then children may become part of the food chain, the hunted, of sexual predators.

When next a teachable moment presents, seize it by providing information about the predator of the moment (eagle, shark, crocodile, etc) and throw in a sentence or two about human predators. It could be as simple as saying, “some adults prey on children. They don’t eat kids, but they do adult type things to the kids and try to keep it secret. If ever anyone tries to touch your private parts I’d really like you to tell me.”

Predators are scary. Teaching protective behaviours to keep kids safe is not.

Carnival Against Sexual Violence 18

The 18th Carnival Against Sexual Violence is up at Abyss2Hope. Twenty five articles, twenty five separate research gems, twenty five people determined to positively impact upon wiping out sexual violence, twenty five reasons to join the carnival and help in the fight against sex crimes.

To nominate a post (your own or someone else's) to the next edition of the Carnival Against Sexual Violence, use the carnival submission form. Links to everything related to the carnival can be found on the blog dedicated to this carnival. The next submission deadline is Mar. 12 at 11 pm with the 19th edition out on March 15.

Together, we can wipe out sexual violence.

Business and Individuals Add to Child Protection

What sort of business can display their corporate responsibility toward ending child abuse? Any business that is not involved in child exploitation is a welcome partner in the fight against child abuse and the protection of children.

The Abused Child Trust has several corporate partnerships across the Government, Non Government and Private sectors. Businesses, large and small, have taken the opportunity to give back to a protective Australian community by either donating a percentage of sales, making yearly cash contributions, or assisting the Trust with in-kind support.

Thumbs up to those businesses that proudly display their corporate responsibility toward the Abused Child Trust. I sincerely hope that they receive additional business from consumers who appreciate financial and in-kind contributions to an area that potentially affects all future consumers: our children.

Whereas many individuals make a decision to support a cause against child abuse, a smaller number actually turn their decision into action. Today is the start of the rest of your life. Use this day to kick-start yourself into action.

Identify a child-focused charity, organization or group that you want to support (Imaginif supports the Abused Child Trust). Make contact with them and discuss what would be most helpful to them. Turn the discussion into action: do it!

You may have a great idea but are too embarrassed to carry it forward. Great ideas need great people to turn them into reality. If you are already interested in child protection, you are a great person and you can do it.

In Finding a company to buy your business ideas, I provide a case example of a man who had a great ‘family focused’ idea. With some simple action and a good deal of feeling initially dejected, he was paid handsomely for his intellectual property.

Purse for a Curse is a simple idea that I came up with. After some basic market research, I just began organizing Purse for a Curse and then contacted the Abused Child Trust to ensure that they would be the recipient of raised funds.

Business or individual, you can play a valued role in child protection. When we started collecting our five-cent coins for the Abused child Trust our 11 year old and 20 year old started doing the same thing. Instead of having two adults tipping into our large blue vase, we now have four people in our home doing it. This was not discussed with the kids; they just began doing it voluntarily because they could see the worth of protecting others.

If you’ve got a tip that other families could also use, post it here to provide readers with a variety of social responsibility ideas. Not every idea will suit everybody’s circumstances. Sharing is a form of child protection.

Scrapbook Life Story Work with Kids in Foster Care.

I have had so many recent requests to facilitate Life Story Work trainings that it is impossible for me to cover them all. Instead, I have decided to share my training outline so that other interested workers in the field have a blue print of what I do. If you are going to use my training outline please just credit me with a link back to this article. To view more than the training outline, have a look at two articles I wrote at Confessions of a Life Story Worker, Part 1 of 2 and Part 2 of 2.

Life Story Work Training Outline:

Introductions – participants to introduce themselves by name, where they work and by answering four questions:

  1. WHERE have you come from today?

  2. WHAT was it like coming here today to learn about life story work?

  3. WHEN did you decide to learn about life story work, and

  4. WHY did you come?

Today’s workshop concerns itself with:

  1. why foster children often feel left out, different, and disconnected from who they are,

  2. a recipe of what to collect for your foster child’s life story book,

  3. what to write to explain what has happened and how to help the child integrate the reality,

  4. different ways to preserve memories where culture/circumstances demand something else,

  5. a scrapbook model to put it all together so that your foster child can keep and cherish their memories forever.

Why foster children often feel different

  • Unusual situation living with someone they don’t know.

  • Have inherent feelings of worthlessness, guilt, confusion.

  • Want to be like other families, but can’t.

Problems of attachment: Attachment theories state that secure attachment happens in the first two years of life.

Go through attachment types: secure, anxious ambivalent, anxious avoidant, disorganized.

Recipe of what to collect for a life book: Pass around Reflections of a Life Story Worker. See content in Confessions of a Life Story Worker, Parts 1 and 2 (above).

Define difference between life story book (concentrates on child and building self esteem) and life story work (therapeutic process that includes all information and multiple truths in child’s life).

Life story books are books that anyone can put together with little thought. They have a place and they assist in giving children a sense of identity but they do not assist in integrating difficult and traumatic life circumstances. They focus on photos to record information.

NSW state welfare department provides printed life story books to all children aged between 0 and 11. The book is made by the child with assistance from the foster carer and information from the statutory worker.

Life Story Work mandates that the child should not be the author of their book but rather an active partner in the preparation of the book. The work focuses on INFORMATION and uses photos to support the information.

Life Story work is a three part process:

  1. Information gathering,

  2. Integration, and

  3. Making the book.

How to gather information for Life Story Work:

  • PARTNERSHIPS – always do with the knowledge of the Statutory agency,

  • Talk to child's extended family members,

  • Reports,

  • Internet searches,

  • Past addresses,

  • Dr’s, Child Safety Workers, School Teachers, Elders.

What to write to explain what has happened and how to help the child integrate the reality: In life story work it is the workers job to write the book and to help the child to integrate the reality.

  • Many of us are already working therapeutically with the children. If we’re not, we remain as a partner in the process and engage a therapist to write the book.

  • We write notes after counseling sessions so why not turn our notes into pages for a life story work document.

  • This is not a therapeutic workshop so am not going into interventions – each of us work differently and have different therapeutic frameworks that we draw interventions from.

  • The starting point for writing is with fact and truth. However, there are variables of and many different versions of truth. These can all be included.

  • Do not gloss over unpleasant information – the child has to know this factual base for removal from their family.

  • Remember the confines of confidentiality and child protection principles – if you receive disclosures this must be passed onto the statutory Department.

  • Helpful to write a movement chart of our own day to get us started.

  • Challenge writers block and just start writing. START – no-one else is going to do it.

Different ways to preserve memories where culture/circumstances demand something else: Books are not the only way to achieve Life Story Work. Can use boxes, cylinders, videos, etc. Different cultures, different ways of preserving memories.

Sharing of resources – what do other people already do?

A scrapbook model to put it all together so that your foster child can keep and cherish their memories forever.

  • Scrap booking is a process of recording memories in a way that keeps the memories.

  • Frequently the focus is on journaling – using words to tell the history and having photos or embellishments to support the words.

  • Scrap booking is achieved by using acid free paper, glue and embellishments.

  • Scrap booking is interactive, interesting and HUGE business.

  • Scrap booking is a great way to put together Life Story Work.

  • Show examples of complete Life Story Work Scrap Books.

Make a Paper Bag album of how you came to be here today: Using the paper bag in your workshop bag we’re going to make a mini album using the information you supplied at the beginning of the workshop.

Making a scrapbook page using the photo you have bought with you: Using the photo to support your words, consider what somebody else may want to know about the photograph – Where, when, who, why. What are the multiple truths connected to the photo? Where could you source more information from?

  • Start with a title, plan your page layout, write your journaling and put it all together.

  • Time spent on completing Scrapbook Page.

Back to large group to discuss how to possibly use such an expensive and time consuming process in the work we are doing with children.

Workshop end.

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