Keeping Our Kids Safe


When I was growing up in Zimbabwe, I heard so many stories.  In church, stories were employed to illustrate the sermons.  At school, storytelling was one of the methods for instructing children.

This charming story is a children’s folktale that I have recreated for Western readers, specifically for children between the ages of five and eleven. There are many versions of this story told all over the world, but it is said to have originated in India. In this rendition the setting is the jungle of Southern Africa.

The title of the book is “Little Shoko And The Crocodile” by Thelma Grace Sithole, illustrated by Rebecca L. Holmes. It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Young readers will find the little monkey fascinating. He is the innocent hero, sweet and trusting. The crocodile is a master of trickery who entices the little monkey by making up stories about the happenings on the other side of the river.

In the end, the little monkey prevails over the treacherous advances of the crocodile. The story teaches children to be careful about whom they should trust. It also teaches the children to obey their parents and not to keep secrets from them.

My wish is that this tale will entertain children, and most importantly educate them and their parents about the tactics of child predators. This topic undoubtedly makes people uncomfortable, and yet it cannot be avoided.  The prevalence of child sex abuse is difficulty to determine because it is often not reported.  According to a research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approximately 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.  According to the US Department of Justice, 90% of the perpetrators are not strangers to the children; they are usually known to the family and have earned the child’s trust.

Studies on the impact of sexual abuse on children have demonstrated that abused children suffer from symptoms such as fears, post-traumatic stress disorders, behavioral problems and poor self-esteem. Girls are more likely to develop eating disorders and have higher incidence of teen pregnancy. Adults who were sexually abused as children have high rates of excessive drug and alcohol use.

With so much going on in our lives it is impossible to be with our children 24 x 7.  We cannot stop them from going out into the world and interacting with other people. What we can do is arm them with the knowledge that can save them from being the next victim of a child predator. Knowledge is power.  Acquiring knowledge about the tactics of child predators and how to keep our children safe from them is the most effective tool of winning this battle.  An informed child is less vulnerable to a predator’s tactics than a child who hasn’t been taught any safety skills.

I hope you find this tale a powerful tool to educate the kids about safety in an effective andnon-traumatic manner and that empowering them with this information will make a difference in their lives.