Right Touch

The Right Touch coverThe Right Touch: A Read-Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse
Kleven and Bergsma

Submitter: When I was perusing our juvenile section for a book for storytime, I stumbled upon this; another children’s book about “bad touching.” I think the title makes it worse! After I submit it here, I’m going to put it on the chopping block for weeding (as an academic library, we should have books like this for social work students, but not one this old). What’s extra weird is the book was written in 1997 but the illustrations are from 1985. I’m not sure what sort of message this will give kids–it may be helpful for a social worker to give to a child who has been abused, but the illustrations are creepy enough to scare any child.

Holly: I don’t know, I think the pictures are kind of cute.  Hey, Mary – they’re like PRESCIOUS MOMENTS FIGURINES!  That’s exactly what they look like!  Mary LOVES Prescious Moments.  Anyway, there’s just no un-creepy way to present this material.  That last picture with the guy and the little girl is particularly disturbing, though.  Look at the kittens!  They are horrified!  At least they spun the title positive…

goodnight story

touching problems

man and girl

sit on lap


  1. Icky. The childrens’ huge eyes, the creeped out kittens and the Woody Allen molestor are awful!

  2. I agree that the illustrations are “creepy” rather than “cute.” Those white lines make them strange for me. Sort of like ghosts. They do not look like Precious Moments, Holly! My daughter was often told (or I was told, she was a baby and toddler) she looked like one, and she looked nothing like these illustrations! I wonder how the little girl got into that situation. Why is she alone in the home of a man in the first place? She doesn’t seem to know his name. We should’ve been able to tell he was a pervert just by looking. He can’t tie his shoes! What a strange touch. (No pun intended!) I do think calling it a touching problem makes it sound less important. “Stop, Mister! This is a touching problem!” Touching problems are when your kids are in the backseat on a long ride and one keeps touching the other! “She keeps touching me!” We’ve all heard it!

  3. I’ll cast another vote for the art being creepy rather than cute. I suppose they remind me a tiny bit of Precious Moments figurines (though only once it was pointed out).

  4. An innocent evening of tickling from mom turned into lesson on bad touching. I bet Jimmy didn’t see that one coming. Also, a big HELL NO to the word “panties” being used in a children’s book. Yuck.

  5. @Anon – And what word would you use? Even though studies show kids who know the proper names for body parts and know the fuctions of sexual organs when young are less likely to be molested, more likely to report it when it happens, and less likely to have unprotected sex as teens, people will get ticked off if the author wrote “When the man tried to put his fingers in her vagina….”

    There’s just no uncreepy way to teach this.

  6. If this book makes you uncomfortable, then congratulations you are a decent human being and you are not okay with children being molested. As said, there is no way to handle this that isn’t creepy.

    The drawings are grotesquely cutesy for my taste, and personally I think the molester should be more normal looking because unfortunately they look like everyone else.

  7. I agree with Holly, I do think the pictures are cute. You do feel for the girl and the horrified kittens in the last photo. Like Jami, I agree that there is no uncreepy to teach what is needed to be taught.

  8. Lisa, I’m glad you mentioned the child molester’s untied shoes, because if I hadn’t gone back to look at them, I wouldn’t have noticed this books Secret Message. The child molester is wearing red converse sneakers. What is on little Jimmy’s bedside table? A red converse sneaker.

    Clearly, the implication is that he is so intrigued by his mother’s story of a man putting his hand down a little girl’s panties that he grows up to become a child molester.

  9. The best books like “It’s My Body” teach kids they own their bodies can say no not just to the “weird” stranger but also to aunts and and uncles who want to kiss them and pich their cheeks. Think about it if you can say “No” to the little stuff it makes it easier it say “no” to other things.

  10. I’m with Anon–the word “panties” is so creepy and infantilizing to women in general. Why not say underwear? If a boy/man can wear underwear, so can a girl/woman.

  11. @Thalia – because when you buy them in the store they’re STILL called panties.

    What the heck is so “infantilizing” about the word panties? That sounds like some uptight, over the top, pseudo-feminist crap. The kind that makes REAL feminists – as opposed to the ones who are as close to being a real feminist as Fred Phelps is to being a real Christian – look bad.

    The proper name for women’s underwear is panties. I wouldn’t want them called underwear. That is too masculine. Women are different from men and that is a good thing and we deserve our own special words for our undergarments.

    Honestly, whining about the use of the word panties is so childish. They’re panties, get over it.

  12. Hee, Jami, it seems we feel equally strongly in our opposite views of the word “panties.” I don’t know, I just think it is weird that we have a babyish-sounding name for women’s underwear, when really, it is the exact same thing and serves the exact same function as men’s underwear. Sure, there are differences, but it’s all underwear when you get right down to it. I freely admit I might make too big a deal of it (my husband thinks I’m nuts when it comes to “panties,” in fact), but I have *always* thought that word sounded icky and creepy and embarrassing and wondered why the gender distinction. We both have shoes, pants, socks, shirts, etc., etc.,–why the gender distinction on this one word?

  13. As a professional in the field of rape prevention/intervention . . . we prefer that children and potiential victims not be made responsible for preventing the criminal actions of adults/others. From a prevention point of view, the unwritten message is that a) sexual violence is going to happen and b) if you don’t stop it, it will be your fault. Not cool.

  14. In my opinion, the most appropriate word to use would be “underwear”. I cannot think of one child that I’ve ever known to use the word panties.

  15. Those pictures make me barf, (and so do Precious Moments figures & Hobbits).

    At least the good kittens have seen through the horrid, creepy man! Go Cats, Go!

  16. @Jami–While I agree there’s nothing wrong with the word panties (although I’m not overly fond of it), I really don’t see how the word underwear is even remotely gendered. You wear them under your clothes. They are underwear.

    @Margaret–The thing is, while obviously the kid is not responsible, they HAVE to be taught what to do if it happens. If you never mention inappropriate touching to a kid, what will they do if they do get molested? They will, having never been taught that it is wrong, most likely never say anything. When you teach them in school (I still vaguely remember being taught about “uh oh touches”) or at home that nobody has a right to touch them in a way they aren’t comfortable with, it empowers them to speak up if they are. They NEED to be taught about it. And further, teaching them to say no and to try to get away if they can could potentially prevent some (not most, but some) cases, and if it protects even one child, it is completely worth it.

  17. All panties are underwear.

    Not all underwear are panties.

    The word “panty” refers to a particular style of underwear. I have no idea why this is even an issue for anyone.

    As for this book, I’m amazed anyone could find those weird trolls in the illustrations “cute”.

  18. I agree with Thalia; I loathe the word panties and a brief survey of the women I work with shows they hate the word, too. “Underwear” FTW.

  19. My goodness, I have never seen such a thorough discussion of the words panties vs. underwear. Both words are used in our society, and whether to weed a library book serving that society doesn’t depend on our own personal preferences for which term to use.

  20. 1. Alex (above) is my hero.
    2. I generally only see the word “panties” used in poorly-written but extremely hot erotica, which makes seeing it in a book like this pretty darn sketch. When I was a kid we said “underpants”…

  21. I’m going to take a vote on the “panties” issue; I, too, think the word is creepy– especially in this context. I’ve always referred to all undergarments as “underwear,” regardless of the gender of the person wearing them, and I’ve only heard/seen the word “panties” used in sexual contexts.

  22. Well the pictures are creepy and cute at the same time.
    The bottom picture is disturbing. I bet his “kittens” are actually ball one and ball two,not the cats on the shelf.

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