Indianapolis-based author Charlotte Brown-Parrott is prioritizing the health, safety and wellbeing of Black children — and reminding them they have bodily autonomy.
Brown-Parrott, originally from Dayton, Ohio, moved to Indianapolis 10 years ago to escape an abusive relationship. She said she started writing as a way to heal and realized her situation was, unfortunately, not unique, and like so many women of color, started in her childhood.
According to Indiana Center for Prevention of Youth Abuse and Suicide, 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys under the age of 18 have experienced sexual abuse or assault. More than 90% of abusers are friends, family members or people children know and trust. However, as many as 85% of child abuse victims never report their abuse.
In an effort to bring awareness and help educate others on the signs of abuse, Brown-Parrott said she decided to write a children’s book.
“I found that writing was healing and therapeutic,” she said. “This was my way of not only finding healing within myself, forgiveness and things like that. It’s also to help others that was dealing with it.”
Brown-Parrott self-published her book “My Body is My Body” in 2020 and used her background in graphic design to illustrate the book using words and phrases, imagery and activities that kids can easily understand and remember.
She said oftentimes kids can recognize how they are feeling but may not be able to express or verbalize it properly at such a young age, which is why her book uses illustration and emojis to help encourage further discussion with parents as they read together.
“It’s kind of almost like a poem aspect, but it gives you empowerment slogans that you can read through with your little one that have a discussion about stranger danger,” she said. “Why you shouldn’t take candy from a stranger, why you shoudn’t walk somewhere alone … body safety tips, you know, good touch versus bad touch.”
Having formerly worked at a Christian bookstore and as a literary consultant and publisher, Brown-Parrott said she is no stranger to determining the best ways to get her book out to stores, schools and libraries where children will have access to them.
Currently, her book is available in hard- and soft-back at the Indianapolis Public Library. She said it is recommended for kids ages 3-11 and features abuse resources and hotlines but purposely does not include any harsh or explicit content — just the basic information kids need to recognize safe and unsafe situations.
“It’s a tough subject,” she said. “I didn’t write it where you get knee-deep into conversation about sex or abuse. It is this just the basics.”
Shortly after the book came out, Brown-Parrott created and designed a companion board game called “Don’t Break the Rules!” The game includes the same characters as the book and encourages parents to play alongside their children to foster healthy conversations about situations that pop up along the gameboard.
The game was crafted to be simple, Brown-Parrott said. The way to win is to take your time and not rush to the finish. The rules place an emphasis on paying attention to your surroundings, both in the game and in real life, to avoid life-threatening situations.
“When they spin, if they land on one of the creditors, this is where we say, you know, the parents get to explain to the child what’s going on here, and why you had to take steps back and so on,” she said. “But the idea of the game is to land safely home without any problems.”
Outside of being an author, Brown-Parrott is also the founder of Me Too Chronicles, a women’s organization that creates child protection strategies and teaches adults about sexual assault and domestic violence through literature, workshops, programming and support groups.
Following her success with “My Body is My Body,” Brown-Parrott said she is now working on a full-length adult fiction novel entitled “When the Power Goes Out Darkness Follows.” The book is about dealing with mental illness and recognizing and escaping the cycle of abuse, she said.
Brown-Parrott’s book is available at the Central Library branch of IndyPL and Ujamaa Community Bookstore for $14.95. The companion board game is $29.95 and can be purchased at metoochronicles.org/me-too-kids-collection.
Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.