Thursday 14 April 2011

Jill Starishevsky - Interview

Today I am joined by author, Jill Starishevsky, who is here to tell us a bit about her new release.

Hi Jill; welcome and thank you for coming.

1)    Perhaps you’d like to start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I am prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City, the author of a children’s book called My Body Belongs to Me intended to prevent child sexual abuse and the mother of three beautiful girls.

2)    Your book, My Body Belongs To Me, was written to help deal with a very serious issue. Can you tell us a bit more about the book and who it is aimed at?

I wrote My Body Belongs to Me to help prevent child sexual abuse by teaching 3-8 year olds their bodies are private and belong just to them.

The story is a simple scenario involving a child who is inappropriately touched by an uncle’s friend.  The powerful message really comes through when the youngster tells on the offender and the parents praise the child’s bravery.  The last page shows a proud, smiling child doing a "strong arm" pose.  The text assures them that it wasn't their fault and by speaking out the child will continue to grow big and strong.  It is a compelling and uplifting message.

The “Suggestions for the Storyteller” section is an important, interactive feature that facilitates the discussion to follow.  It will make any caregiver feel more comfortable talking about this important subject, thereby helping to PREVENT the unthinkable from happening to their child. Studies show that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be molested by the age of eighteen.  Without educating children regarding the importance of disclosing, the abuse can continue and escalate.

3)    What first prompted you to write about this issue and what made you decide to address the children directly?

As a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City for more than a decade, I have often encountered children who were sexually abused for lengthy periods of time and suffered in silence. One case in particular had a profound impact on me and compelled me to write this book.

I prosecuted the case of a 9-year-old girl who had been raped by her stepfather since she was 6. She told no one. One day, the girl saw an episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" about children who were physically abused. The episode, "Tortured Children," empowered the girl with this simple message: If you are being abused, tell your parents. If you can't tell your parents, go to school and tell your teacher. The girl got the message and the very next day went to school and told her teacher. I prosecuted the case for the District Attorney's office. The defendant was convicted and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.

I have thought often of that very sweet, very brave 9-year-old girl. It occurred to me that after three painful years, all it took to end her nightmare was a TV program encouraging her to "tell a teacher."

I wrote My Body Belongs to Me to continue that message. It endeavors to teach children that they don't have to endure abuse in silence. Parents and educators should use it as a tool to facilitate an open dialogue with youngsters. It is my hope that by educating girls and boys about this taboo subject, My Body Belongs to Me will prevent them from becoming victims in the first place.

4)    Why did you decide to self-publish?

I initially shopped the book with large publishers.  While I had some immediate interest, the publishers were reluctant to include the line where the child is actually touched.  They preferred that I allude to the abuse.  I felt that children could miss the important message if it was too subtle.  Ultimately, I self-published and was able to retain creative control.  Fortunately, the book has been well-received and praised by parents, educators and the medical community.

5)    I understand that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. How can readers get involved and help?

Readers can find events in their community to raise awareness about child abuse prevention.  I encourage readers to contact their local school and library and find out if they have a copy of My Body Belongs to Me (currently in over 300 libraries).  If not, request that they order a copy so children in the community will have access to it.  Take the time this month to talk to your children about their bodies.  Teach them the correct terms for their private parts and make sure they know to tell you or a teacher if someone touches them inappropriately.

6)    Where can readers go to find out more about you and your book?

To learn more about me and to order the book, readers can go to:

It is also available in Barnes and Noble, Borders and on Amazon.

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