Dr. Stauffer and the Hope for Families Mission
It is unfair to expect children to prevent or stop abuse, it is crucial that we provide them with the knowledge, skills and sense of empowerment to help them recognize abuse, get away and tell about it as soon as possible. The best protection we can offer children is a sense of empowerment and control over their bodies and their experiences combined with open communication regarding their feelings, their bodies and their experiences.
While it is unfair to EXPECT children to prevent or stop victimization, it is also unfair for adults to fail to provide children with information, skills and an environment of openness that may help them to avoid, stop or tell about abusive experiences and bullying. It is important that the education we provide to children be presented in a way that is helpful to all children and does not inadvertently increase the feelings of guilt and shame experienced by children who have already suffered from abuse or bullying.
It is with this in mind that I set a goal for myself of developing a different kind of educational program for children. When I first met with my co-author, Dr. Esther Deblinger, it was the spring of 1990 and I was a first year graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania. I was meeting with her to interview for a training position at the Center for Children’s Support at the School of Osteopathic Medicine of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey(now the CARES Institute of Rowan University). CARES is a multidisciplinary program that specializes in the evaluation and treatment of child sexual abuse. During that interview I told Esther of my dream, for that truly is all that it was at the time (and still is), of developing an educational program that would not be hurtful to children who heard it and had already been abused and would not cause any child to feel guilty if they did not prevent or stop abuse in the future.
I began working as a graduate student in training at the Center in September 1990 and I joined their professional staff in 1994 after I graduated. Throughout my years at the Center I would come home and work on work books for use with our groups of young children who had been sexually abused and I thought that maybe someday I would turn them into that different kind of educational program that I dreamed of. Over the years I became more focused on working with the children who had already been abused, and my thoughts of developing a program faded into the background. Then, in 1998, amidst lots of changes in my life, I began focusing again on that dream. With the support of my husband, I incorporated in October 1998 as Hope for Families, Inc. with the goal of producing materials and educational presentations that will be helpful to children and families—beginning with the issue of abuse and personal safety. My first book was to be an interactive book regarding personal safety that contained the knowledge and language of a trained therapist, but that any caring adult could read with a child.
There were many bumps along the road in 1998 and 1999, but after my first child, was born on July 29, 1999 I was inspired to finish my book. Having finished it, the next task was finding the funding to pay to print the book and cover other business expenses which were building up. My husband very lovingly agreed for us to obtain a personal loan, because the business did not have any track record to support a loan, to cover expenses and allow us to move closer to making my dream a reality.
On November 8th 1999 I held the first copy of my book in my hands hot off the press. My mother and I were there to see it completed—oh what an amazing feeling! The book was printed at Boyertown Publishing Company, which is the company where my mother worked from the time I was 2 until she retired when I was 25. I also worked there the summer after graduating high school, as had several of my sisters and my brother before me. It was truly an amazing experience to be back there with my mother to see Let's Talk About Taking Care of You: An Educational Book about Body Safety printed.
And so, having the book completed and printed, my dream came a few very big steps closer to reality. Since 1999 I have produced 4 other versions of the "Let's Talk" books and have released an eBook version. My dream is not complete though as I continue to work on the challenging task of getting the books and the information out to as many children and families as possible.
This dream is important enough to me that I, and my family, have made considerable investments of time, energy and money. And we continue to make those investments with the hope of spreading the word and getting as many caring adults as possible talking about these issues among themselves and with children.
It is my goal to help share this information with as many adults and children as possible. Please join me in my efforts by using the information from this website and my book in your interactions with children.
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