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The Littlest Silence Breakers

Maureen Hart, 2017

Time magazine recently named The Silence Breakers as the influential “Person of the Year.” The individuals who share their stories of harassment and abuse in the 2017 issue are men and women from all walks of life, and they are to be commended for their resilience and courage. Time writes, “They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along.”

The educators at Kids Have Rights have the privilege of speaking with many of the littlest and most vulnerable Silence Breakers. We do not meet them staring out at us from the glossy cover of a prestigious magazine or being interviewed by a highly respected journalist; nor will they be lauded for their bravery by the public at large. We meet them as they wait patiently on the circle rugs of their classrooms for the KHR lesson to begin, or perhaps they watch us curiously as they wonder who we are, why we are there, and what we will teach them. You, too, have likely met the littlest Silence Breakers as they giggle with your kids at the bus stop, or retell events of the school day in the car pool. You likely have chatted with them never realizing that you were in the presence of one of the bravest people you will ever meet, for that 5 year-old, or 7 year-old, or 10 year-old has participated in the Kids Have Rights body safety lesson and has chosen to break their silence and tell their story of sexual abuse.

The littlest Silence Breakers also fear retaliation, alienation, and wrongly and tragically may even feel guilty for shaking the very foundation of their security in the telling of their stories.  This is especially true when their abuser is someone they know and trust – love and rely on. After participating in the KHR lesson, they know that they have the right to be safe, and that there are Safe Adults in their lives who will listen to them, believe them, and know how to help them. With trembling voices and trusting hearts, the littlest Silence Breakers do what we know even the most accomplished and connected adult can be afraid to do – they tell their story.

During this season of reflection and giving, the Kids Have Rights team would like to extend a heartfelt thank you – full of gratitude – to the littlest Silence Breakers for giving us the gift of their trust, their amazing courage, and in the telling of their stories, hope, that together we can halt the cycle of child sexual abuse. We would also like to thank you for your continued support, and we wish you all the joy and happiness this season of giving holds. We hope you will hold the littlest Silence Breakers in your hearts, for it is in breaking their silence and telling their stories, that they make the world a safer place for all children.

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