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Perspectives are commentaries produced by and for WNIJ listeners, from a panel of regular contributors and guests. You're invited to comment on or respond to any Perspective on our Facebook page or through Twitter (@wnijnews), in keeping with our Discussion Policy. If you would like to submit your own Perspective for consideration, send us a script that will run about 90 seconds when read -- that's about 250 words -- and email it to NPR@niu.edu, with "Perspectives" in the subject line.

Perspective: A lesson from a fox

A fox, but not Fred.

Fred the Fox Shouts NO! is a story of an adorable little fox who learns that he is allowed to say NO if someone else tries to touch his private parts. This book is part of a series of lessons teaching kids about body autonomy, body safety, and how to report sexual abuse. I had just finished reading this story to a group of young kiddos when I saw a small hand raised to tell me “Miss Lynnea…this book is a little bit…inappropriate!”

Now, this book doesn’t use any language more specific or scientific than “private parts” (the language in the book is probably about the same as the language I could get away with using on NPR!). However, this exchange reminded me how often our children are subconsciously taught to be embarrassed or ashamed of their bodies.

The way we talk about our bodies as adults trickles down to how our kids feel about their own. If we are more embarrassed to talk about private parts than we are to talk about elbows and kneecaps, our kids might be too embarrassed to tell us about their own bodies or the times when they need help. If we constantly talk about our need to lose weight, get in shape, or work off that extra slice of Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, our kids might grow up with an unhealthy relationship with their own self-image.

It's not inappropriate to talk openly and honestly with our kiddos about all sorts of topics. We might feel uncomfortable, but pushing past that discomfort allows us to create safe, supportive environments that will help healthy kids grow up to be healthy adults.

I’m Lynnea Erickson Laskowski and that’s my perspective.