Parent/Teacher Organizations, more than a Bake Sale by Stacey Honowitz
Six months ago, I was booked to speak at the Parent/Teacher organization at a local temple. The synagogue has a preschool and a very active organization. The woman who called me said she watches me on television, and knew that I had written two books to help parents break the ice when dealing with the sensitive and delicate subject matter of “how to talk to your kids about private parts and how to report possible sexual abuse.”
When I arrived she was already making apologies for what might “not be a good turnout.” Being used to the difficulty of getting my message out there, I would not have been shocked if she told me only five people where arriving. I rushed my kishkas off to get there on time and didn’t even stop for my beloved Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. I mulled it over in my mind cause there was a ton of traffic getting there, and then I figured “oh they will have it there.” (wrong, no decaf). In any event, there were enough women there to listen to what I have to say, and then engage in a meaningful discussion. When I asked the mother in charge how much time she wanted me to speak ( knowing of course that I could talk them deaf, dumb and blind), she informed me that I had twenty minutes. She said that they had alot of things to get to on the agenda, you know with Chanukah and fundraising events coming up.
Oh where to begin….introductions….and then right into the meat and potatoes of why I was there. I informed the group that I could stand and talk to them, but I preferred to make my lectures interactive. Lots of times when you leave the question and answer period to the end, people forget what they wanted to ask. I also made it quite clear that I use language they might find to be offensive (between the subject matter and my own cursing) and that they could feel free to walk out and I would not be offended.
I then totally got into my groove and gave them the heads up on what to look for, what is sex abuse, how to talk to their kids and told many war stories. I informed them of what “reality is” in the schools, boy scouts, organized sports and homes. I let them know that there is no “profile” of the sexual predator, that it can be jewish, catholic, black or white, rich and poor. I told them about my trials, big press cases, the Judges that hear these cases, the defense attorneys that defend these cases, and the juries that hear these cases. I told them about little kids having to testify to horrible facts, and how one spouse might avoid going to the police in order to protect the other spouse. I let them know it all, and my potty mouth did not go on vacation because I was spitting them out left and right. After being in the prosecutors office for almost twenty four years, I have heard it all, but they haven’t.
I watched their faces as I was speaking, I heard their gasps as I was explaining, and I saw their eyes well up when I was talking about my cases. Most of all. I saw women who were not yawning, not texting nor whispering to the person next to them. They were fixated on my information, and it didn’t make a difference to me if their were fifteen people in the room or five hundred. I had them hooked on things that they would never have thought about before. They asked great questions, engaged in conversation with one another, and listened attentively as I read excerpts from my books.
I didn’t mind that I did not have my coffee, I didn’t care that my phone rang five times during the lecture, and I was thrilled when they said they were thrilled that this was a Parent Teacher meeting they decided to attend. I had their undivided attention about a topic normally so many are resistant to hear about.
The nicest compliment I received was when I looked down at my watch and said, “I guess I should stop,” and the president said, no no.. you keep going, we don’t care if we don’t get to the stuff on the agenda. This is way too important, and we can get to the other things later. Best part, the school itself purchased copies of my books to keep in their library. That alone made me see that somewhere I could be making a difference. It’s obvious that this school is not afraid to take the bull by the horns and realize that this topic needs to be addressed, and they are addressing it head on. What a great day it was for me to know that people were truly grateful for my appearance and information.