Read of the Week

The Day the Dragon Came

Fanie Viljoen with illustrations by Tumi K Steyn

Human & Rousseau

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

Our world is full of ugly horrors and unfortunately, sexual abuse is one that is very prevalent.

According to the promo leaflet accompanying this book, about 30% of children experience sexual abuse.

That’s an alarming statistic. How does one turn such a tide? How does one sensitively teach children about the dangers without spoiling their innocence? Can sexual abuse be prevented?

As a mother, I found these questions can be quite haunting but I’ve also found that, thankfully, some authors have tackled the subject in children’s books.

My 13-year-old daughter chanced upon one at the library a few months ago. I forgot the name but its focal point centred on bad secrets and what to do about them. My daughter was fascinated by the book and it prompted a lot of uncomfortable questions.

The book had quite an effect on her because that night she made a heartfelt prayer that children who were keeping bad secrets, would have the courage to seek help.

The Day the Dragon Came similarly talks about secrets that should not be kept secret. It also teaches children some of the grooming methods used by paedophiles, like taking inappropriate photographs, distinguishing the child favourably and inappropriate “accidental” touching.

The book has two versions, one for girls and another for boys. The story is told from the perspective of the brother or sister (depending on the version) of the child being molested.

Kevin (or Kyla) witnesses some of the uncomfortable behaviours of his mom’s boyfriend, Jason, and how his older sister, Abby, reacts.

A lesson at school tells the main character what to do if they are touched sexually and what is considered inappropriate touching. At the back of the book, there are two checklists, one for children and one for caregivers or teachers, summarising the points in the books. The child’s list explores ideas around fear, secrets, safe and unsafe touch and how to seek help.

The caregivers’ list talks more about the legalities of abuse, what the consequences are of concealing abuse and how most children are not lying when they talk about having been inappropriately touched. It also looks at the warning signs of sexual abuse and how to talk to your child about this difficult subject.

And lastly, it has a list of where to seek help.

This is the kind of book I would hope that every school library has in stock.