We are honored to introduce our guest to you today. Her name is Shariea Shoatz and she is the Founder of The Buddy Speaks Foundation. Buddy Speaks is an organization that provides preventative education and awareness to help end childhood sexual abuse. Workshops, videos, book signings, Q&A sessions, Radio Talks and TV Interviews are just a few of the vehicles she uses to help prevent abuse, educate and empower children and adults from experiencing the silent nature and debilitating effects of childhood sexual abuse.
Shariea and I discuss the importance of teaching consent, signs of abuse, and the body safety rules. Check out her blog below, and you can find her podcast episode here.
What was the problem that you saw a change was needed?
The problem I found is the need to educate and empower parents. Empower children to speak out if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. I also want to change the way people think of, respond, and react to childhood sexual abuse. There was a need to create an environment where people can have the courage to address uncomfortable truths and eliminate victim blaming. What are different types of child sexual abuse? There’s contact and non contact forms of sexual abuse. Contact includes: Sexual intercourse, touching a child's genitals for sexual purposes and pleasure, making a child touch their genitals, or someone else's genitals or play sexual games, putting objects inside the vagina in the mouth, or inus of a child for sexual purposes. Non-contact: Showing pornography to a child, Deliberately exposing one's genitals to a child, photographing a child in sexual poses, photographing a child naked, encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts, inappropriately watching a child undress in the bathroom What are some signs that a parent may pick up on that their child is experience abuse? Behavioral signs: Nightmares, headaches, loss of sleep, oversleeping, bed-wetting, holding bowels, loss of appetites, over eating, withdrawal from favorite activities, trouble focusing in school, stuttering, the child clings to a protective adult, the child fears the safety of a loved one, neglects keeping oneself clean, the child may hide their body with baggy clothes or dress provocatively, the child may become extremely defiant, or overly obedient, the child may fear the abuser or the gender of the abuser, Stuttering. RED FLAGS: Pain urinating or having a bowel movement, Sexually transmitted diseases, redness, swelling, bruising or bleeding in their genital area or mouth, sexualized language or behavior beyond what is normal for their age. Self harm, substance abuse, sexual promiscuity. Running away from home, suicide attempt, genital infections, pregnancy, How can a parent be there for their child if they have experience sexual abuse? A parent should tell the child they believe them. Tell them it's not their fault, I'm glad that you told me, reassure them they are not in trouble, remind them you will get them help and they will be safe now. Contact authorities and use the child's vocabulary when reporting. What age is it recommended to teach consent, and why is it so important to teach at a young age?
We should teach children as early as 3 years of age about consent. This will help them know how to listen to their body, speaks out if they feel unsafe, if someone does something inappropriate to them. Teaching them at an early age will help them to feel comfortable talking about body safety, private parts (Always teach them the proper names of their body parts) the body safety rules, and know they have power over their body. Consent is important through all stages of life, however, we live in a highly digital age. How can one practice consent digitally? You should talk to your children about internet predators and how they trick teens and children into thinking they're friends and want a personal relationship with them. Stay current and follow their activity on social media. Make sure they don't publish their email address, cell number or house number. Turn off devices at turn them in at night. Teach consent With the Buddy Speaks Foundation, should a parent come to you and disclose that their child has experienced sexual abuse, where would you recommend them first with Buddy Speaks? A parent can come to Buddy Speaks if their child discloses their abuse. We will contact child protective services or What inspires you to keep going? What inspires me to continue is knowing the statistic 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls will receive some form of sexual abuse before the age of 18. I keep going because I am a Survivor and in spite of my abuse, I want to do more about this issue, and have to continue to speak out, teach, and bring awareness to help others to protect their child from the silent crime of childhood sexual abuse. What do you hope readers take away from “My Voice is My Superpower?” My goal is to help stimulate conversations to empower children with body-safety knowledge, and skills to keep themselves safe. I'd like to help parents take a proactive role in stopping the unfortunate epidemic of childhood sexual abuse, and to be used as a tool for parents, teachers, and guardians to use to increase their knowledge of prevention and awareness, stimulate an ongoing dialogue, help parents to handle disclosure, and improve their child's confidence and empowerment. With #MeToo and #TimesUp, what impact do you feel they have made and how have they impacted you?
#MeToo and #TimesUp has opened the door to help survivors remove the shame and guilt of their abuse and to speak out and to receive support. We need to continue to speak out and educate our community and adults to know their role in protecting their children from sexual abusers. What is the best way to get in touch with you and the Buddy Speaks Foundation?
You can reach me at 484-727-8626, or on my website at www.buddyspeaks.life, or on Instagram buddy_speaks or shariea_shoatz Facebook buddyspeaks #sharieashoatz
Where can we find a copy of your book?
You can purchase a copy of my book on my website at www.buddyspeaks.life
Shariea Shoatz is an educator with twenty plus years of teaching experience. She holds a Master's Degree in Special Education from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania with a minor in Behavior Modification, an Early Childhood Certificate from Lincoln University and a Teacher of The Handicapped teaching license. Shariea has taught children, teens and adults in classrooms, prison systems, hospitals, daycare centers and private homes throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Abu Dhabi.
Drawing from personal experiences, extensive professional training and classroom experiences, Shariea passionately dedicates her time to teaching and talking about a topic that most people do not want to discuss, Childhood Sexual Abuse. Shariea's stand for justice and support for survivors embodied in her Buddy Speaks 501c3 organization, helps adults and children to become empowered, confident and able to have open and honest discussions about what to do if the unthinkable happens