Physical and Sexual Child Abuse Resources For Children

compiled by Segnbora (Suzanne Saunders)
Last updated 6 July 2000.

Table of Contents


This is a project I did for my Fall 1996 Materials for Children class with Dr. Marilyn K. Stauffer in the Department of Library and Information Science here at the University of South Florida. It's been edited and updated since then (and I've added links in the book sections to the online bookstore at so that anyone interested can order those books which are available there. I must admit that in return I get up to 15% of the value of each book ordered through my site, but you can also just use those links to get a ballpark figure for the price of a book without buying). I don't get anything from any of the other online places I've listed which sell books or safety programs.

Child abuse is a subject of great concern to people in a wide variety of fields. Psychologists, social workers, teachers, librarians and parents all need information sources in books, audiovisual materials, Internet resources, and even a journal called Child Abuse and Neglect.

Unfortunately, the victims of abuse themselves often have to wait until they grow up to find out that they are not alone in what happened to them. Other children grow up at risk, not knowing how to avoid abuse, how to deal with the problems of others around them who have been abused, or how to protect the children they eventually will have.

Adults often hate to burden "innocent children" with the sordid details of the world, but some information put forth at a child's level can do a lot to prevent that innocence being shattered more brutally.

I remember being a scared kid not knowing what was going on, what it even was that Granddaddy Lonon was trying to do to me. By my early teens when I found a grown-up fantasy novel (Diane Duane's The Door Into Shadow) with a character who'd been sexually abused as a child, it almost automatically became one of my favorite books. I wish I'd had these other resources when I was little.

I urge school and public librarians to evaluate their collections, to make sure they have at least a few books that deal with the horrors some of their patrons may be going through. And I urge parents, teachers, counselors, and anyone else who deals with children to be familiar with some of these resources and not to assume that such a thing couldn't happen among anyone they know.

Comments or suggestions for addition are always welcome at

Non-fiction Books

In non-fiction, there is more at a children's level on sexual abuse than physical abuse, as sexual abuse seems to be seen as preventable if children are warned early enough how to react to advances, while physical abuse is not seen as avoidable by the child. This attitude is a little problematic for survivors of sexual abuse, who often already feel that they did not do enough to prevent it, but the books on preventing sexual abuse at least do emphasize that it is wrong and something an adult ought not to be doing, which is a good idea for everyone to absorb.

{All links in the fiction and non-fiction book categories lead to the listing where that book can be ordered.}

Abuse -- General and Physical

Hyde, Margaret O. Cry Softly! The Story of Child Abuse 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1986. Grades 5-7
Includes directory, bibliography, and index. This book deals with physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect. It talks about why abusers do what they do, and how it affects abuse victims. It's also honest about the problems with most of the possible solutions to child abuse (running away, foster care, etc.) Nonetheless, it encourages reporting of abuse, and talks about the psychological help available for victims and actions that can be taken to stop abuse. It also suggests that children can volunteer in organizations which may help relieve parental stress by providing other places to children to spend time, or in places which help abuse victims. (personal examination)
Recommended in Booklist.

Hyde, Margaret O. Know About Abuse Walker, 1992. Grades 5 and up. 0-8027-8177-2
"Includes directory, glossary, bibliography and index. 'Describes cases of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; their effects; and how to prevent maltreatment' (CIP) Though frank, the text avoids sensationalism. Particularly useful to provide information to individual students." (Elementary School Library Collection)

Mufson, Susan, and Rachel Kranz. Straight Talk about Child Abuse. Facts on File, 1991. Grades 6 and up. 0-8160-2376-X.
"Includes index. Defines and discusses physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Particular strengths are the evenhandedness of the forthright text and a listing of organizations and referral programs dealing with prevention and treatment of child abuse." (Elementary School Library Collection)

Sexual Abuse

Girard, Linda W. My Body Is Private. (also hardback edition) Albert Whitman, 1984. Ages 4-8.
"Through a primary school-age girl's first-person discussion evolve some principles of sound judgment about distinguishing between good touching and unwanted touching." (Booklist)

Hyde, Margaret O. Sexual Abuse: Let's Talk About It. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984.
This book features a wide variety of accurate information (except for mostly omitting the idea that women can be abusers, too). It deals honestly with the consequences of abuse and of telling someone about it. It also gives advice to friends and others on how to help any one who discloses having been abused. This might even be a less intimidating introduction to the subject for an adult than most books intended for them. There is a very nice list of further resources included, though of course new ones have come out since the publication date of this book which would deserve consideration. (personal examination) Recommended in Booklist

Hyde, Margaret O., and Elizabeth Forsyth. The Sexual Abuse of Children and Adolescents : From Infants to Adolescents Millbrook Pr., 1997.
"Once again, Hyde and Forsyth (Know About Gays and Lesbians, 1994, etc.) take on an issue of great concern, and distill it into a thorough, understandable, impartial discussion. Every aspect of sexual abuse of the young is covered and demythologized, from such ancient practices as permitting intercourse with female babies in biblical times to the recent controversy regarding child pornography on the Internet. Statistics reinforce the authors' points as they define and consider sexual abuse, abusers and ``abusees,'' legal issues, so-called false memories, women and children as abusers, prevention, and help for those who have been abused. A useful list of agencies and extensive notes make this an important resource for students as well as for general readers. " (Kirkus).

Terkel, Susan N. and Janice E. Rench. Feeling Safe, Feeling Strong: how to avoid sexual abuse and what to do if it happens to you. Lerner, 1984. Grades 4-6.
"After each of six vignettes focusing on a relative's physical intimacy, child pornography, exhibitionism, incest, obscene phone calls, and rape, the authors discuss how such situations typically develop and advise readers on how to prevent or overcome them." (Booklist) Also recommended in Children's Catalog

Wachter, Oralee. No More Secrets For Me. Little, Brown, 1983. Grades 3-4.
"Four brief stories portray common sexual abuse situations in nongraphic terms, with hopeful endings confiding in someone who can help them." (Booklist) Also recommended in Children's Catalog.

Fiction Books

Oddly enough, there is much more fiction for children about physical abuse than sexual abuse, as if a molestation were not an appropriate subject for children to read about but a beating were. Physical abuse is a common enough subject that it is not always a point of access for books unless it is the overriding theme of the book. Especially, some historical novels set in times where physical abuse of children was more common may feature it. In both cases, the fiction is more likely to be aimed at older children or young adults.

{All links in the fiction and non-fiction book categories lead to the listing where that book can be ordered.}

Physical Abuse

Bawden, Nina. Squib. (also audio cassettes, which are easier to find acording to Amazon.) J.B. Lippincott Company, 1971. Grades 5-7.
A very British book, but an adventure story that kids might like when some children decide to rescue a quiet friend from an abusive situation. (But they do have to call the grownups in eventually.) A good story, but the abusive aspects do not come in until later in the book and everything is told from the friends' viewpoint. (personal examination)
Recommended in Children's Catalog, Best Books For Children, Booklist.

Byars, Betsy. Cracker Jackson. Viking/Kestrel, 1984. Grades 5-7
"Eleven-year-old Cracker is instrumental in getting his ex-baby-sitter Alma to seek refuge from her husband, who beats her and their baby." (Booklist) Also recommended in Children's Catalog.

Coman, Caroline. What Jamie Saw (or the hardback edition.) Arden, NC: Front St., 1995.
What Jamie saw was his mother's boyfriend throwing his baby sister across the room (she is caught in the nick of time by his mother) and it causes Jamie's mom to move herself and her kids out of the apartment in the middle of the night. For a while they live in fear of Van coming to find them in the trailer out on a deserted road, and the family also worries about money and Christmas.

This is a very good book (Newbery award honor book) which describes the feelings of not being out of an abusive situation even once you are out of it. The relationships are very realistically drawn. Jamie may not have himself been abused, but his feelings are representative of any scared child who isn't sure how to cope with a grown-up who misuses their strength. It's too new to make most of the bibliographies, but should not be left out on that account. (personal examination)

Geller, Mark. Raymond. New York: Harper & Row, 1988.
Raymond's alcoholic father abuses Raymond and his mother, and his sister before she left to live in another city. After one too many beatings, Raymond decides to run away to his sister's, and tries to persude his mother to come along. The book deals honestly and very well with Raymond's tremendous confusion about his non-abusive parent and why she stays with an abusive husband. The ending is a little contrived (the mother gives her son over to his sister but decides to return to her abusive husband, and then as Raymond's sister drives him to her home, their mother's car comes up behind them to join them in leaving) but not entirely unbelievable. (personal examination)
Recommended in Best Books For Children

Hunt, Irene. The Lottery Rose. Scribner's, 1976. Ages 10 and up.
This book features severe physical abuse, which the protagonist has to overcome the aftereffects of when he is taken away from his family and placed in a school, where he is ashamed of his scars but gradually fits in. (personal examination) Recommended in Catholic Library World, More Notes From a Different Drummer, Booklist.

Magorian, Michelle. Good Night, Mr. Tom (or the hardback edition.) HarperCollins, 1981. Ages 11 and up.
A tremendously engrossing book about a boy who has to leave his abusive mother in London to be evacuated to a home in the country during World War II. Though he is housed with the town's old grouch, it turns out to be a more loving home than he has ever known. The way Willie grows physically and emotionally, and the contrast we see between his home with Mr. Tom and his mother's abuse are just astounding. Willie has a hard life -- almost too much happens in this book to be believable, but the portrayal of his everyday life and that of his friends is entirely believable and very interesting. (personal examination) Recommended in Children's Catalog, Catholic Library World, Booklist.

Moeri, Louise. The Girl Who Lived on the Ferris Wheel New York: E.F. Dutton, 1979.
Perhaps a little modern in tone for its setting of 1943, but a good depiction of the mental illness of the abusive mother. Til has difficulty in confiding to her non-custodial father or any of her teachers, but eventually does so in time to save herself. (personal examination.) Recommended in Booklist, More Notes from a Different Drummer.

Powell, E. Sandy. Daisy. (Ill. Peter J. Thornton) Carolrhoda, 1991. Grades 3-4.
"Abandoned by her mother and abused by her father, young Daisy draws her dreams as escape. An observant school tutor notices the marks of physical abuse on Daisy and reports the situation. The story is simple enough for a better second-grade reader to understand, and the illustration give clues as to character. This helpful book can be of use to abused children by showing them a way out and will aid the understanding of those who are not abused." (Elementary School Library Collection)

Roberts, Willo Davis. Don't Hurt Laurie!. (or the hardback edition.) ill. Ruth Sanderson. Athaneum, 1977. Grades 5-6.
"Keeping the secret of her mother's abuse, even from her stepfather and siblings, Laurie endures repeated episodes that require hospital visits. When she makes friends and life goes well, the family moves on, until one day when Annabelle's rage escalates to the point that she almost kills Laurie and finally the secret can no longer be contained. This gripping novel deals with child abuse in a realistic manner and fills a need for a timely topic that is frequently discussed." (Elementary School Library Collection) Very good book and an absorbing read, although I would have liked to see more about Annabelle's mental sickness which is rather suddenly given as an explanation at the end. (personal examination) Also recommended in More Notes From a Different Drummer, Catholic Library World, Booklist

Ross, Ramon Royal. Harper and Moon. New York: Athaneum, 1993.
Moon, who was abused as a younger child, now lives as best he can in an improvised house since the age of 13, as his parents are dead. Harper, a younger friend, and his parents, are willing to help Moon anyway they can and give him somewhere to turn when people in the community turn against him. The story deals mostly with Harper's coming of age, but Moon's abuse is probably what made him the recluse that he is, which fuels the plot. (personal examination) Recommended by Children's Catalog

Stanek, Muriel. Don't Hurt Me, Mama Albert Whitman & Company, 1983.
The drawings here are nothing special artistically but the expressions of the characters do adequately portray the feelings of the young narrator, her stressed-out mother and the school nurse who sees the bruises, while still showing the mother as a realistic person and not a maniac. A good book for understanding child abuse for readers not yet up to the rest of this list. Recommended in Best Books For Children

Sexual Abuse

Bauer, Marion Dane. Foster Child. Seabury Press, 1977. Ages 10-up.
"Twelve-year-old Rennie enters a foster home when her great-grandmother has a stroke. When her foster father tries to molest her, Rennie stands up to him. To save herself and a younger girl, she runs away to a home that exist only in her memory." (School Library Journal). Also recommended by Catholic Library World.

Lowery, Linda. Laurie Tells. (or the hardback edition.) ill. John Eric Carpinski. Carolrhoda, 1994. Grades 3-6
"CIP: 'When her mother doesn't believe her, eleven-year-old Laurie tells a supportive aunt that she is being sexually abused by her father.' Told in the first person, the story of Laurie's trauma and untenable situation is accessible to the reader, as is her dilemma of whom to tell and how to escape the situation, about which she is deeply ashamed and unhappy. The art is in dreamy washes and increases in size from page to page until it fills the double spreads as she finds relief, comfort and solution with her aunt's help. Those who are victims of incest may begin to find help in this book." (Elementary School Library Collection)

Woodson, Jacqueline. I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This. (or the hardback edition.) Delacorte Press, 1994.
A little stereotypical, in that the abuse victim is a poor girl living out at the edge of town while the girl she confides to is middle-class. But the two girls have similar problems (one's mother is dead, the other's left the family) which draws them together despite being of different social classes and races in what is portrayed as being a very divided town. Lena's struggle to get the truth across to an incredulous Marie, first in veiled references and then directly, ring very true. Lena has some common reactions to being abused (dissociation, etc.) When the threat of abuse extends to her younger sister, Lena decides to run away, bringing her sister Dion, and Marie is jubilant that they do get away from their father. Perhaps the book might not seem like the best example for abused children, but the accuracy of the feelings described would be wonderful for most abuse victims to read to know that they are not the only ones who feel that way. (personal examination).

Audiovisual Materials

Physical Abuse

Child Abuse: A Kid's Guide to Self Protection videocassette or filmstrips. Learning Tree, 1986. Grades K-3.
"Features a gentle, matter-of-fact approach as it shares with young viewers realistic ways to handle problems of child abuse, molestations, and abduction. Teacher's guide contains an overview of each section, points of discussion and suggestions for a child safety fair. Preview required for effective use. (Contains: My body belongs to me; Good Adults -- bad adults; Good touches -- bad touches; What can I do; Who can help me; Let's talk about it).

How to Raise a Street-Smart Child. videocassette. 43 min. HBO Video, 1986.
"Definitely meant for use by parent and child together, this video is particularly valuable in these times of latchkey children. The program provides valuable practical advice for teaching children to recognize dangerous situations and to avoid people who might exploit or harm them. Consider this 'must' viewing for children." (Best Videos for Children and Young Adults)

Sexual Abuse

Critter Jitters. videocassette. Columbia-Green Rape Crisis Center (dist. by Media Bus), 1986. Grades 1-2
"Includes teacher's guide. Available in two versions: version A contains specific mention of genitalia, version B does not. Guided by the physical education teacher, preschool and primary grade children talk about proper and improper touching and ways to respond to improper touching. Reinforced with mime, music, movement and catchy lyrics, the simple and complete explanations incorporate children's feelings. The full range of correlated activities are presented in the teacher's guide." (Elementary School Library Collection)

If It Happens To You...Coping Strategies for Sexual Abuse. sound filmstrip (2 strips, 2 cassettes). Sunburst Communications 2061, 1985. Grade 6 and up.
"Designed to help children and young people to recognize attempted sexual abuse and to use assertiveness in discouraging approaches. Developed by experienced mental health workers, the filmstrip uses middle grade students who are photographed in class groups and in discussion starter settings; an important plus is the unusually strong teacher's guide which includes program planning suggestions, a bibliography and an address listing. Teachers and program providers working with this topic will appreciate this material. Contents: Trust Your Feelings (74 frames, 11 min.) and Be Assertive (96 frames, 14 min.)" (Elementary School Library Collection).

My Body Belongs To Me (videocassette). 28 min. Sunburst Communications 2379. 0-78055-4092-1. Grades K-3.
"Includes teachers' guide. Includes Paul Glickman's book My Body Belongs to Me, a story on the same topic but with different characters. Counselor and puppets discuss ways for children to respond to inappropriate types of touches. The format works well in delivering information; accompanying guide includes suggestions for use, script, and follow-up questions. Preview a must." (Elementary School Library Collection.)

Strong Kids, Safe Kids. videocassette. 42 min. Paramount Home Video.
"A good companion to How to Raise A Street Smart Child, this video is also intended for use by parents with their children. Hosted by Henry Winkler (look for John Ritter, Yogi Bear, and Scooby Doo in guest shots), the program covers safety skills in an informative manner. Sexual abuse, kidnapping, and how to handle danger are presented in song and vignette. Additional pointers include telling someone you trust about problems and that touching can be wrong if you are uncomfortable. Parents are also given tips on how to be approachable for children. Discussion between parent/teacher and children is recommended after viewing." (Best Videos for Children and Young Adults).

Comics and Magazines

There are three Spiderman comics available from National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse. Their titles and order numbers are: The Amazing Spider- Man on Emotional Abuse (J702241), The Amazing Spider-Man and Skids on Physical Abuse (J702613), and The Amazing Spider-Man and Power Pack on Sexual Abuse (J702175). NCPCA's toll free order number is 1-800-835-2671.

No magazines for children listed in Magazines for Kids and Teens or Magazines for Children seem to have physical or sexual abuse definitely within their scope. At times when some case of physical or sexual abuse is particularly in the public eye, the many current events magazines for children might carry articles on these subjects; on the other hand, it might be considered too sensitive a topic. Several magazines (such as Children's Digest and Child Life) concentrate on "health and safety" as their main topic, so they might possibly carry occasional articles. Yet, from the descriptions in the sources, it seems these magazines focus more on scientific aspects of health, such as nutrition, the causes of disease, etc.

Internet Sites

The Secret of the Silver Horse -- html
This online picture book from the Canadian Department of Justice (also available in French) gives good examples of the difference between the kind of good secrets you should keep, and the bad secrets you shouldn't keep.

Kids In Trouble Help Page --
Contains hotline phone numbers from around the world for kids to call to get help, links to all sorts of abuse-related web sites, and a set of "Funn Links" to other kid-oriented sites.

Stolen Youth (a support list for young people)
Stolen Youth is a support list for young people, run by young people. Many list members have been diagnosed with mental health problems of some sort. Some are survivors of physical, sexual or emotional abuse. Others have experienced only the "normal" stresses of "growing up". All, however, are struggling with emotional pain and confusion-- and helping each other through these struggles. Commonly discussed topics include:
  • family
  • friends
  • relationships / sexuality
  • school
  • self-esteem
  • stress
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • anything else people feel like talking about! :-)
Basically, anything that young people are experiencing is appropriate to post. Poetry and other writings are also sometimes shared. The list is NOT intended for professionals, or parents (other, more appropriate lists exist elsewhere). To subscribe to Stolen Youth, send the following command (in the BODY of mail) to

subscribe S-YOUTH yourfirstname yourlastname

For example: subscribe S-YOUTH Bart Simpson

National Center For Missing And Exploited Children pamphlets
The NCMEC has five pamphlets about child safety for parents and kids available online, and descriptions with ordering instructions for several which are not on the Web site.

Wounded Healer Books
A general categorized list of books about recovery, mostly targeted for adults but with some for younger audiences. Also connected to

Red Flag, Green Flag
The publications division of a Rape Crisis Center, containing descriptions of all sorts of books and other materials for help in educating kids and adults.

Safe Child
Books and programs on keeping a child safe can be ordered here, and some general information on child safety is online.

A British site offering information on bullying and abuse.

The Most Important Rule of All
A book about good and bad touch.

Child Help USA
A site with both a section for adults and a section for kids, with information on what abuse is and how to report it.

Boys Town
Despite the name, this site is for all kids, teens, and adults, with information and hotline numbers.

There is also a list at childab.html maintained by the Thompson-Nicola Regional District Library System in British Columbia, Canada, which lists the books for children about abuse that they have in their system. This might be useful for comparative purposes but does not supply more than the books' author, title, call number in their system and a grouping by reading level.

A Source of Books Identifying Sexual Abuse In Children
G.W. Medical Publishing has books for parents, teachers, law enforcement, counselors and medical personnel which help in identifying abused children and intervening in their situations.
Yahoo's Child Abuse category
For further resources: organizations, Web sites, etc., mostly aimed at adults.
I intend to add more book listings when I have time to review them, but until then, here's an Amazon search box so that you can look up things that have come out since the last update.

Works Cited

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