Only For Me, a book written by a stay-at-home mom with the help of a professional sex educator, is a book unlike anything you’ve probably read to your children before. And that’s why it went viral on TikTok earlier this year.
The book explores the delicate yet crucial topic of body safety for children—how they can help protect their body, how they give consent, and how to understand the difference between adults you can trust and those you can’t.
Its gentle explanations and kid-friendly illustrations help engage kids while educating them with critical information to help prevent child sexual assault. Recently, the book went viral on TikTok when user @youcancallmekait read it out loud in a video encouraging parents to buy the book for their own kids.
“I just discovered I have a new red flag,” she explained in a previous video. “And it’s people who have a problem with this book.”
[Content warning: This book depicts situations congruent with child sexual assault.]
“This is my bottom and bits that wee. They’re very private and ONLY FOR ME. They have proper names that are good to use, that way no one gets confused.”
As the book goes on, it teaches children that no one can touch their bodies, make them show someone their bodies, or take photos of their bodies. (The book is clear about contextualizing what constitutes a trustworthy adult or peer and what doesn’t.)
It teaches kids to not give consent “even if my clothes are there, and definitely when my body is bare, and even if they say it’s a game, and even if their bottom’s the same,” and also that adults shouldn’t show kids their bodies either.
While it’s normal for any parent to read through this book and feel uncomfortable, it’s vital to remember that just because something is difficult to talk about doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it.
The comments on the viral TikTok about this book are heartbreaking to read, as many victims of childhood sexual assault shared that they wished they had a book like this when they were kids.
The Australian author of the book, Michelle Derrig, talks about what inspired her to consult experts and write a book like this. She says she learned about two young children who had been sexually abused by children their own age, and was “horrified” to learn that the parents had been supervising the children in question at the time.
“It made me realize that no matter how diligent you are as a parent, the reality is that we need to empower our children to protect themselves,” she says in a statement on her site. “We need to teach them, educate them and develop the skills they need, in order to keep themselves safe. Yet how do we do this, in a way that is gentle and dignified? How do we engage them in such a conversation? How do we talk to them about such confronting subjects, whilst maintaining their innocence?”
The answer: Only For Me. As a mother of a kindergartener and a toddler, I bought it the second I finished watching the viral TikTok video. My favorite part of the book is at the end, where children are encouraged to write down the names of five adults they can trust.
The book also concludes with instructions for kids who may have been on the receiving end of abuse—and that if an adult doesn’t help them, they have to keep talking until they find one who will.
You can buy a copy of Only For Me below.
A version of this story was originally published on March 21, 2022. It has been updated.