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NYer of the Week: Rose Morrisroe Educates Children to Protect Themselves From Abuse

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused before they reach 18 years old. The latest New Yorker of the Week is trying to make discussions about this serious subject easier for kids. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.

The motivation for Rose Morrisroe is personal.

"I was four years young when I was molested by a family member, and I remember thinking that I'm alone, I'm ashamed and I'm to blame for what happened," she says.

Rose kept the abuse a secret for decades. Today, this first-grade teacher is helping the youngest in our city raise their voices.

"Nixzmary Brown was an unfortunate case in Brooklyn where it was a young 7-year-old girl who was murdered by her stepfather," she says. "And that really prompted me to get involved, because I started to realize that our children are in need of adults to speak up for them."

So Rose made it her mission. In 2006, she founded "Soldiers Against Child Abuse," a nonprofit that works to raise awareness and educate children to protect themselves.

"How does a child at 4 years young realize and comprehend what has happened? How do you put your brain around what is being done to you?" Rose says. "There aren't really resources out there that are available, especially at the primary grades."

Rose visits schools around the city and communicates in a kid-friendly way. She uses a hula hoop to show personal space, and reads from her book, "No Secrets Between Us," to teach kids about the importance of trusted adults. It's a valuable lesson for the children, as well as their teachers and parents.

"Our children should be feeling safe, so I will introduce this to my family, friends and will continue to talk about it," says Elizabeth Lopez, a parent of a student at P.S. 18 Edward Bush.

"I'm glad that Ms. Rose did this because it's actually important, and kids need to know about personal space," says Ariana Blandon, a student at P.S. 18 Edward Bush.

"At this age, they're sponges," says Elizabeth Tedeschi, a pre-kindergarten teacher at P.S. 18 Edward Bush. "They take in everything, so whatever you're teaching them, it's going to stick, you know, especially when it comes to their personal space."

So, for encouraging children to become their own advocates, Rose Morrisroe is our New Yorker of the Week.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information about the organization, visit soldiersagainstchildabuse.org.

Nominate a New Yorker

If you'd like to nominate someone to be NY1's New Yorker of the Week, send an email describing their qualifications to nyer@ny1.com or mail a letter to:

NY1 News
New Yorker of the Week
75 Ninth Avenue, 6th Floor
New York, NY 10011

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