New children’s book by local author Christine Camp tackles big issues and big feelings for little ones

Headshot of Kate Campbell
Kate CampbellGeraldton Guardian
Christine Camp with her new children's book, Lottie's Big Feelings.
Camera IconChristine Camp with her new children's book, Lottie's Big Feelings. Credit: Kate Campbell

Parents can often feel adrift when trying to tackle difficult conversations with their young children, from how to understand their own feelings and bodies to knowing the right and wrong way to be treated by others.

According to one expert, some parents don’t even know where to start but there’s one simple, but effective, suggestion — start with a storybook.

That’s why the launch of a local children’s book is being praised as a welcome tool to help parents, guardians and educators with that tricky task.

Geraldton author and educator Christine Camp said her book, Lottie’s Big Feelings, was the first in a planned series of storybooks.

Ms Camp has worked in the fields of family and domestic violence, sexual assault and protective behaviours, and felt compelled to do something proactive and creative in what was typically a dark space.

“There’s a lot of reaction, but we need the prevention,” she said.

Emma reads the new book to two-and-a-half-year-old Bryce.
Camera IconEmma reads the new book to two-and-a-half-year-old Bryce. Credit: Kate Campbell

After working on her dream project for three years, she is now letting it out into the world.

She said the response so far had been fantastic, even without the book being widely advertised. She’s keen to explore any opportunities with day-care centres and schools.

Protective behaviours expert Andrea Musulin, who is director of the Catholic Church Archdiocese of Perth’s Safeguarding program and before that was a police officer for 30 years, helped Ms Camp launch her book last week, when she revealed the staggering statistic that 20 children had been subjected to interviews about sexual abuse from December until last week in the local police district.

Ms Musulin said sadly many of those interviews and disclosures would go nowhere because the children were “not empowered enough to give enough evidence to allow police to move onto the next level”.

She said books like Ms Camp’s were important because it helped kids get in tune with their feelings and emotional intelligence.

Christine Camp and her supporters at her book launch.
Camera IconChristine Camp and her supporters at her book launch. Credit: Kate Campbell

“Back in the ‘80s, we weren’t teaching protective behaviours, we were teaching stranger danger. But 90 per cent of Australian children who are sexually abused aren’t abused by strangers, they’re abused by people they know and trust, that they love. And what makes it even more difficult is they are abused by people they rely on to thrive and to grow,” Ms Musulin said.

“Clearly we’re never going to eradicate it, but we can minimise it ... and after 35 years of working in this space I can tell you with hand on my heart, that with no exceptions, that educating children is the answer.

“Most of (children’s) emotional intelligence is derived from the adults around them and can I just say we don’t do a great job of that either. So we need storybooks like Christine’s to help teach our children about feelings and to really open those conversations up.”

Ms Musulin said current FBI research was showing that law enforcement could obtain much better disclosure from children when they got them to recount their feelings.

Christine Camp and Andrea Musulin.
Camera IconChristine Camp and Andrea Musulin. Credit: Kate Campbell

Geraldton MP Lara Dalton launched Ms Camp’s book, and said she was a big believer in storytelling and the special time it created for parents and kids to connect.

“When my children were younger that was the time when I did get to connect with them, laying down reading a book, little things about their day might pop up and conversations would naturally occur,” she said.

Ms Dalton said we needed to give our young children the words and understanding of what they’re feeling and that those feelings are OK.

Ms Camp’s book is available at various online outlets. For more information, visit christinecamp.com.au.

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