Kids Helping Kids
By: Linda Foltz Published: 2003
Break the Silence of Sexual Abuse!
Successful programs across the country show children are more likely to listen to and learn from each other, particularly when the danger is real and can happen in their own backyards. This concept of a peer teaching approach has proven to be highly successful in national programs on drug, alcohol and teen pregnancy prevention. Unlike any other book, Kids Helping Kids Break the Silence of Sexual Abuse uses this theory to reach out and touch all children in a powerful new way. Through its unique peer education format, the book offers extensive insight on ways to cope for girls and boys who have suffered sexual abuse – directly from one child’s heart to another.
In each of the fifteen chapters, child victims show what sexual abuse is. Ten girls and five boys, ranging in age from five to seventeen (at the time of their victimizations), detail how they were manipulated into sexual activity and how blame and shame trapped them in silence. They tell how abuse changed their lives, how they broke the bonds of secrecy, and what they are doing to promote their own healing. They communicate directly with other kids, offering advice from their experience especially to those who are still trapped in an abusive situation or are beginning their journey toward healing. When guided by a trusting adult, these true stories, followed by a brief narrative, will educate all kids about the dangers of sexual abuse. If kids are later approached, they will be empowered with effective safety strategies.
The book does not stop there – it destroys barriers. When kids are locked in silence, parents, teachers, and other professionals face a lengthy and difficult process to create the trust needed to penetrate the secrecy. This takes time that adults do not have when kids are in danger. But when trusting adults are able to show children that other kids have endured the same abuse, felt the same way, and survived, they establish credibility. This allows the children to be delivered to safety more quickly than ever before. The book helps provide exactly this kind of credibility
Victimized children often bear the burden of guilt and shame. Through the true stories of brave children – children with whom all kids can easily relate – other child victims will come to understand that, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their abuse, it’s not their fault, they are not alone or different, and there is hope for healing. This important message will calm the fears that haunt abused children.
As a prevention tool, Kids Helping Kids delivers education, insight, and awareness not only with the first-hand accounts of the children, but with expert advice and a comprehensive list of resources for further information and help. Kids Helping Kids also offers parents a step-by-step guide to helping their children recover from sexual abuse, written by child psychologist Walter Howard Smith, Jr., Ph.D. “When relationships in life support healing, children spontaneously search for meaning and intimacy, and find a healthy perspective on their abuse. These children become the people I admire most and wish to emulate,” said Smith.
Author and childhood sexual abuse survivor Linda Lee Foltz knows firsthand the devastation and trauma of abuse, but she also knows that healing and prevention are possible through increased education and awareness. Her suffering, and eventual recovery in adulthood, led her to volunteer at a child advocacy center. There, she saw a 10-year-old boy brought in for raping a 5-year-old girl – repeating what had been done to him and continuing the vicious cycle of abuse.
This incident had a profound effect on Foltz. “That was the day I knew I had to do something ‘out of the ordinary’ to help these kids,” said Foltz. After years of writing and working with children willing to tell their stories in order to help others, her efforts finally found publication through Lighthouse Point Press, a Pittsburgh-based publishing company. In addition to her volunteering, speaking, and writing efforts, Foltz is contributing even more to the cause she so tirelessly champions: she has chosen to donate all of her proceeds from the book sales to child advocacy charities; so readers, in effect, will be helping others to heal as they themselves begin their own path to healing.
About the Author
Linda Lee Foltz is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. After healing from the trauma of her own childhood, she wanted to “make a difference” and began volunteering at a child advocacy center. There she met hundreds of kids whose lives, like hers, were forever altered.
In her work, she learned that the only way to break the silence, stop the cycle and protect innocent children is through stronger educational tools. Victimized kids, through their heroic voices, their true stories and their amazing ability to survive, have the power to reach out and teach other kids in a dynamic new way. That became the idea for Kids Helping Kids Break the Silence of Sexual Abuse.
A child rights advocate, Foltz frequently speaks at national conferences and meetings, sharing her own personal struggle with sexual abuse, as well as some of the gripping stories from her book.
Although talks are tailored to meet the needs of the audience, suggested topics include:
- Breaking the Silence
- My Best Friend Just Told Me Something and I Don’t Know What to Do
- What Parents Need to Know to Protect Their Children.
For information on scheduling programs, contact Linda Foltz:
Address: Kids Helping Kids P. O. Box 401
Bridgeville, PA 15017 E-mail: LindaFoltz@kidshelpkids.net