Authors Kate and Rod Power with their book My Underpants Rule!.
How do you teach young children about the dangers of abuse without scaring them?
Former police woman Kate Power and her husband Rod Power believe they have the answer in the form of a book they have written, My Underpants Rule!.
The book teaches children about their own safety in a fun and easy format.
As a police officer for more than 15 years Kate had seen some terrible cases involving children and knew the media headlines are just the tip of the iceberg.
"The Australian Institute of Criminology estimates that up to 1 in 5 children will be sexually assaulted before they’re 18," she said.
"With our own children we felt that our parenting skills, and especially my experience, would be enough to protect them, but a couple of incidents happened in our immediate community that showed us how vulnerable our kids are, no matter how much you know or how vigilant you are as a parent. We realised the best way to protect kids is to educate them so they can protect themselves.
"Our next discovery was how difficult that can be as a parent! It’s a tricky subject because it can be personally confronting, and how do you engage a young child in the topic in a positive, empowering way? We knew if we were finding it challenging, so were other parents. So we put our heads together and created My Underpants Rule!".
Kate and Rod wrote the first version of the book while they were living in the UK and sent it to experts for feedback. As a result earlier this year they were approached by the UK's largest child protection agency, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). The NSPCC wanted the book to help support their behavioural study on teaching protective behaviours to school children in Northern Ireland.
According to Rod, the initial indication of interest in the book overseas led to six months where they actively showed it to Australian child protection experts, survivors, criminologists, parents and children to gain further feedback.
"We worked hard to improve it in many ways and decided to launch an updated version when we returned home to Australia this year," he said.
A percentage of each sale of My Underpants Rule! will be donated to Barnardos Australia.
"Our book is focused on prevention of child abuse, but we know it cannot solve the issue for every child in every home. So we want to support a charity that helps those children we can’t reach," Rod said.
"Barnardos does outstanding work in this area and are completely focused on the needs of children. They were our first choice because of this, and we’re extremely proud and grateful for our partnership."
My Underpants Rule! is aimed at three to eight year old children and their parents, carers and educators. Rod and Kate encourage parents to read it to their child once or twice a month, just as you would any other story book, so they can learn the rule off by heart and say it along with you or by themselves. Children will pick up the rule quickly, and like a nursery-rhyme it will stay with them for life!
To buy your copy of My Underpants Rule! please visit the online shop.
About the authors
Kate Power joined the NSW Police Force in 1992 where she saw some of the worst sides of life. She was most disturbed by incidences of child sexual assault. So when she had her own three children, she was aware of the need to protect them and teach them to protect themselves.
Rod Power says teaching has been a passion throughout his adult life, most of it with "grown-ups" in corporate environments. He believes the principles of accelerated learning apply no matter what your age. "We learn best when we're having fun, asking questions and having our knowledge tested by different scenarios. Repetition, especially saying things "out loud", cements learning much faster."
See Kate Power’s interview on ABC News.