Sunday, December 1, 2013

Author Spotlight - Jack Teaches His Friends To Be KidSafe!

Sally Berenzweig, MEd, MA, Child Safety Expert, Mental Health Professional, Educator, Author, Public Speaker, Safety Expert on Facebook Safety and Jefferson Award Winner 2012 - Sally Berenzweig is a former Psychotherapist who has a Masters in Elementary Education and a Masters in Counseling Psychology. She has worked with survivors of sexual abuse as well as in private practice. She specializes in child safety, prevention education workshops and parenting skills. Sally is the Coauthor of "KidSafe For Kids" an 8 week curriculum for children ages 4 – 12 and two children’s books "Jack teaches his friends to be KidSafe!" and the 2011 Literary Award Winning children’s book "My Body is Special and Belongs To ME!" Sally was the recipient of 2012 Jefferson Award for Public Service.

Cherie Benjoseph, LCSW, Child Safety Expert, Mental Health Professional, Educator, Author, Public Speaker and Mom -Cherie Benjoseph has been working in the field of social work, specializing in children and families, since 1989. After earning her Masters in Social Work from Boston University Cherie took a position as a public school guidance counselor in Boston. One particular student who shared with Cherie that she was being sexually abused by her step father changed Cherie’s direction and she became focused on prevention education. She trained and specialized in violence prevention/conflict resolution, active parenting skills, and her main focus, personal safety. KidSafe was soon created and she began to bring the message of personal safety to children in South Florida.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BEGIN WRITING? In developing our KidSafe for Kids program we realized the importance of using books to help teach children important life skills.

WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE? Sally-- (my son named Jack who is almost 13 now) was 4 years old and he asked if he could come with me to teach KidSafe. He said "I want my friends to be safe too" and a light bulb went off and we realized that it would be an incredible way to review our 8 lessons by letting "Jack" teach his friends all the safety skills his parents taught him.

IS THIS YOUR FIRST BOOK? No – our other award winning books is My Body is Special and Belongs To ME!

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? Yes – we are writing a book for parents. Each of our children’s books has a section in the back for adults on how to keep their children safe and continue the learning our books offer. We realized we need a book just for parents to expand on the material.


WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE AS AN AUTHOR? The whole process was extremely challenging - however it has been beyond rewarding to receive feedback, awards and reviews from children, parents, teachers, guidance counselors and professionals who love our book and how they have helped them.

One foster parent who received our training and a book shared this:
I want to take a moment to explain what an impact Cherie Benjoseph and the book had on my family, without breaching the confidentiality of my case. After our training class (on Saturday, 1/28/12) I went home and discussed the book with my kids. They were very engaged and asked a lot of questions about "unsafe touches" as well as actions that made them feel confused and uncomfortable. That night they revealed some additional information to me that was not mentioned before in this case. Five days later (at the most inopportune time I might add) the girls revealed a plethora of incidents that they were exposed to. I believe that without the combination of the book and the "poker face" training and me building a trusting relationship with the girls we may have never gotten to this point. I can go on all day talking about how much we love these kids and the actions we take to protect them, but we were missing an extremely important element that could have very easily gone unnoticed. I cannot express how grateful I am that these kids will never be part of the statistics that don’t speak up. I don’t know how I would have reacted to receiving what they were telling me if I wasn’t told to have a poker face and reassure them about how brave they are and how happy I was that they felt like they could trust me with that information. They started the conversation shy and uncomfortable and at the end they were smiling and looked as if a huge load was taken off their shoulders. They were proud of themselves. And now they tell me every little thing that ever happens :) I don’t think that there was ever a lack of trust. I feel that perhaps it never dawned on the girls that these things that happened to them were wrong and needed to be reported. Whatever the reason, I plan to read this book to every child I ever come in contact with. I have already shared it with family, coworkers and friends (but I told them that they had to buy their own!).

Thanks again!


LITERARY CLASSICS Book Reviews & Awards