03/27/09 — Teacher uses own experience, pens children's book on abuse

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Teacher uses own experience, pens children's book on abuse

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 27, 2009 1:46 PM

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Lisa Teachey

Selena Smith, an English teacher at Wayne Early/Middle College High School, has published a children's book, "Joey Wants to Know: A Parent-Child Guide to Inappropriate Touch." A victim herself, she wrote the book to open up a dialogue between parents and children.

Selena Smith realized several years ago that victims of sexual abuse needed a voice.

She just didn't think it would be hers.

The incidents happened when she was very young, and involved an older child.

For 25 years, except for her parents, she had carefully guarded the secret.

Then, about six years ago, her church, Whitley Church near Princeton, started a recovery program for those with hurt in their lives, she said.

"But that didn't apply to me, I was fine," she said. "Then they started a special program for victims of childhood sexual abuse. I felt like this gripping feeling but I didn't want people to think that had happened to me. So I fought it. I finally went to the meeting and through that, I began to realize that talking about it is where the healing is. I just thought you just kept it a secret because if no one else knows, it makes it all better."

She says she was amazed at the number of people in the group.

"Everybody's in their own corner, keeping it a secret," she said. "I looked around one night and actually said out loud, 'Somebody needs to do something about this.' But I was thinking it was going to be one of them."

It was then that the idea of a children's book began to take root.

It would be a non-threatening story, she said, offering a way for parents to talk to their children.

But the reluctant author still avoided the idea that she might be the one for the task.

"I don't write children's books, I teach high school kids," said the English teacher at Wayne Early/Middle College High School. "This is a book about sexual abuse. Who's going to read it?"

But she couldn't shake the notion and soon realized just how widespread the subject of childhood sexual abuse was.

"It got to the point every time I turned on the news, every time I opened up a newspaper, there it was," she said.

She finally gave in and sat down to write. She was turned down by a publisher and put the idea on the back burner for five years.

The second time, she sent it to a Christian publishing company and it was accepted and published in February.

The paperback book, "Joey Wants to Know: A Parent-Child Guide to Inappropriate Touch," is available on online book sites such as Amazon.com and through tatepublishing.com. For those who might struggle with sharing such subject matter with their young children, it also comes with a free audio download, Mrs. Smith said.

She will hold a book-signing at Books-a-Million on Saturday from 1-4 p.m., at Healthy Kids Day at the Family Y on April 18, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., and a reading/signing at the Wayne County Public Library on April 25 from 10:30-11:30 a.m.

For more information, contact Mrs. Smith at joeywantstoknow@gmail.com.