New Campaign Confronts Culture Of Silence On Abuse, Empowering Children To Speak Out

Published: Tue 9 Apr 2024 08:39 AM
A new campaign designed to empower the "brave voices" of children by encouraging them to speak out and find help if they experience abuse will launch today.
Supported by Life Education Trust, Save the Children, and Women’s Refuge, the campaign aims to break the culture of silence that traditionally surrounds sexual and other forms of abuse in Aotearoa New Zealand and deliver children a vital message: ‘To seek out a trusted adult until they find one who believes them and will act on their behalf to help keep them safe and secure’.
The campaign is centred around a new book, ‘The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus’, the latest story from Avril McDonald, award-winning author of the Feel Brave series of books (little stories about big feelings for 4-7-year-olds) and founder of ‘Feel Brave’, which aims to give all children access to tools that help them manage tough emotions and reach their creative potential. Each book tells a story about a real-life situation that children may face, while offering a simple strategy to cope.
Says Avril McDonald: "Every child should feel physically and emotionally safe, but I know this is not always the case and that breaks my heart.
"Sometimes a story or one simple strategy can change people’s lives and my hope is that this book might do that in some way for children and families around the world."
The book will launch today at Government House, Wellington, hosted by Her Excellency Dame Cindy Kiro, who has also written the book’s foreword, while a fully immersive, interactive digital version of the story (created by Publisher Prime) will be available through the App Store, Google Play and Amazon. The app uses animation, music, sound, touch, and illustration to bring to life the empowering tale.
Save the Children New Zealand Chief Executive Heidi Coetzee says too often children are silenced when abuse happens out of fear of not being believed or shame.
"Avril and ‘The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus’ showcases the transformative impact of storytelling in addressing child protection issues. The story offers children and adults a safe space to explore what speaking out might look like and what to do if a child needs help.
"Alongside our partners Women’s Refuge and Life Education Trust, we hope to encourage adults across the motu to empower children to use their voices and seek assistance when needed."
Life Education Trust Chief Executive John O’Connell says they have used the Feel Brave books in their mobile classroom programmes in schools for the last seven years.
"The Feel Brave stories and illustrations are highly engaging for young children and a great resource to develop emotional intelligence. ‘The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus’ will help us teach tamariki to trust their instincts and speak up if they know something is wrong."
Women’s Refuge CEO Dr Ang Jury ONZM says "a large part of our work is assisting tamariki who have witnessed and experienced family violence.
"We are excited to be part of this project and welcome ‘The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus’ as a valuable resource to encourage our smallest clients to talk about their experiences which is the beginning of the healing process."
The book is available from, while the digital storybook can be purchased from the App Store from today (April 9) and available from Google Play and Amazon later this month.
More about the author
Avril McDonald is the best-selling award-winning New Zealand author of the Feel Brave Series of books and founder of 'Feel Brave' which aims to give all children access to tools that help them manage tough emotions and reach their creative potential. The Feel Brave books are currently in eight languages and are read and loved by children all over the world. Her UK edition of 'The Wolf was Not Sleeping' has a special foreword written by HRH Prince William and the Texan editions of the same book were recently given to 56,000 First Responders across Texas. Avril continues to work on new Feel Brave projects and with large organisations where she creates entertainment-driven well-being content for children (and adults alike). Avril is an ambassador of the Life Education Trust (which uses her books as part of their mobile classroom programme) and a patron of the Westminster Children’s University in London.
About Life Education Trust
Life Education Trust has been educating New Zealand children for 35 years. Today, they are New Zealand’s largest health education provider in schools.
Known for their fleet of mobile classrooms, specialist educators travel throughout the country using technology and individualised lessons to engage children, creating a unique and memorable learning experience. Every year through the Healthy Harold programme they teach over 250,000 children to embrace healthy choices - learning about their body, friendships, their identity, food and nutrition and helpful and harmful substances. In secondary schools they support youth through three Theatre-in-Education programmes.
About Save the Children New Zealand
Save the Children works in 120 countries across the world. The organisation responds to emergencies and works with children and their communities to ensure they survive, learn and are protected.
Save the Children New Zealand currently supports international programmes in Fiji, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Laos, Nepal, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea. Areas of work include child protection, education and literacy, disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation, and alleviating child poverty.
About Women’s Refuge
Women’s Refuge is New Zealand’s largest nationwide organisation supporting women and children experiencing domestic violence. For more than 50 years, the organisation has been working to liberate women, children and whānau from family violence by providing quality services and social commentary.
About Publisher Prime
Publisher Prime has a long history of building unique digital interactive publications and is committed to breaking down the barriers to knowledge and technology. Our mission is to make learning and engagement accessible for all through storytelling, interactive training programmes, and dynamic education books and manuals. Our platform empowers readers to dive deep into narratives and grasp complex concepts like never before.
Past publications include 'Kings & Queens' by Dr David Starkey, 'The Wind in the Willows' narrated by Stephen Fry, 'Thunderbirds Are Go Adventures' and 'The Diary of a Young Girl' by Anne Frank.
Publisher Prime is developing their technology into a globally available platform due before Christmas 2024.

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