Milly’s Message Discussion Questions assist parents and caring adults in successfully reading this book with children. Our key piece of advice is to expect success… yet anticipate the unexpected. As daunting as the thought may be, your child may have already seen explicit content and not said anything.
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I loved this book! It was lighthearted and non-confronting. I didn’t have to have a conversation about porn at all. My daughter understood and it can translate to other situations too. It gives them the power to ASK and TELL without fear of retribution – just healthy curiosity.
Discussion Questions: Milly's Message
Reading Milly’s Message will give your child permission to test the waters and see if you will get mad at them, or if you respond in a loving, supportive and understanding manner. It may be the case that your child has heard other kids at school or older cousins talking about things and they haven’t quite understood. Or it may be that this is the first time they have thought about adults doing grown-up things together. Let me encourage you. A calm and balanced conversation using age-appropriate language will empower your child. It won’t rob them of their innocence – rather, they will feel safe knowing that they can approach you to discuss things that they encounter in their day-to-day world that may otherwise be daunting and confusing. If you are feeling anxious or questioning the need to have this type of conversation, take a moment to look over the Support Notes before you get started, and scroll to the bottom of this page for further insight.
Regardless of whether your child knows or doesn’t know anything about adult behaviour, use this book as an opportunity to let your child know they can come to you about ANYTHING they feel unsafe or unsure about. Milly’s Message is written for 5 – 10-year-olds so the guided questions will need to be tailored in a way that you know your child will understand and work for their level of understanding. Because this book is so gentle in approach, your child will process it at their level in a way that is developmentally okay for them. This is a wonderful place of empowerment for you both!
As you read this illustrated rhyming book, there are several ways you may like to approach it.
- Discuss things as you go through each page
- Read it right through and come back to discuss things
- Or it may be a combination of both.
It’s highly recommended that you read this book together with your child. There is nothing harmful about giving this book to your child unattended, however, it’s certainly a missed opportunity for conversation if they read it alone.
How you read Milly’s Message will be a matter of whatever works for you and your child. If you are a teacher, you may also choose to read it to the classroom you are working with. Similarly, if you enjoy home-learning, deepen your child’s comprehension by accessing the corresponding curriculum. These guidelines are not intended to be prescriptive, however, they are a starting point to give you confidence in approaching this topic.
Page 5: Milly talks about the pictures, movies and photographs that she loves.
- Ask your child what sort of pictures or movies they love and enjoy.
Page 6: discusses sharing things on Facebook and keeping some things personal to help keep the Internet helpful and safe.
- Depending on your child and the apps or platforms they have access to, it may be helpful to discuss.
- The difference between ‘personal’ and ‘private’ when we are talking about online content. ‘Private’ is an online setting that we can set for social media. It means that it’s only shared with the people we want it to be shared with.
- BUT because we share things on the World Wide Web, there’s no guarantee that what we share will only be viewed by the people we share it with. When we upload something online, we lose control of it.
- The only way we can keep something completely personal, is by not sharing it online.
- When we experience big emotions (anger, sadness, etc.), it may be smarter to not share things online.
- By being smart about what we share, we are being a responsible digital citizen.
- It’s always a good idea to keep personal details personal and offline (like our birthday, address, phone number and school).
- Facebook is only for kids over the age of 13. Talk to your child about the types of platforms that they may already use that are suitable for their age bracket. Reaffirm the importance of keeping personal information offline and only speaking to the people that they actually know.
Page 9: talks about the different feelings Milly experiences when she watches movies.
- Ask your child about ‘good feelings’ movie they’ve seen that they really loved.
- Ask them if they’ve ever seen a ‘bad feelings’ movie that they didn’t enjoy. What were those bad feelings? How did they move on from those feelings?
Page 10: explains Milly’s experience of seeing grown-ups doing things that made her feel uncomfortable.
- Discuss with your child the steps Milly took:
- Milly listened to her tummy that told her what she was seeing wasn’t for her eyes.
- Milly passed back the phone.
- Milly experienced some big emotions and knew she had to tell someone.
- Ask your child if they’ve ever seen anything that has made them feel confused and upset like Milly did.
- Listen and calmly respond (see the bottom of the page for more tips). Allow your child to open up.
Page 13: shares how the images stayed in Milly’s mind and played around in her head. Milly knows that she must talk to her mum.
- Who else could have Milly spoken to at school?
- Could Milly have spoken to the teacher? Or the principal? Help your child identify who they could speak to if they knew that sharing images or adult movies was happening at their school.
- Was it okay that the other child showed Milly pornography? [No. It is illegal to show a minor images of pornography. The other child will likely need professional intervention and education, particularly around the importance of not showing other children pornography].
- NOTE: It is vitally important that a child who shows porn to other children is reported through the appropriate confidential processes at the school, and that the school acts. This can also be reported to the relevant Government Child Safety Department in your local area. Without intervention, a child engaging in this behaviour will likely continue to put other children at risk.
- Discuss with your child how it feels so much better to talk about things that are troubling. By speaking about troubling things, it gets it out of our mind and brings it out into the open. Big secrets like that can make us feel sick in the tummy – the thoughts keep churning and we can feel lonely.
- What about if it was an adult that showed Milly those images? Is that okay or not okay? [Not okay at all. Adults who show children pornographic images are often doing so as part of a grooming process, using them to convince children that engaging in sexually abusive behaviours are okay, telling them that it’s ‘a special secret’. Children need to have a clear message that it’s not okay for other children, teens or adults to show them content that is not for kids eyes. If it has happened to them, it is never their fault.]
Page 14: highlights how Milly’s mum was her most trusted and safe adult.
- Help your child to identify several safe adults they can talk to. Sometimes it’s helpful to have them draw an outline of their hand and write each person in one of the fingers so they know who to go to for a helping hand.
- Ask your child what other things they may need to talk to a safe adult about. This could include feeling unsafe in any situation or if someone touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Suggest a kids helpline for your child to call if they are ever unsure about who they can speak with. In Australia, Kids Help Line are available any time, for any reason: 1800 55 1800.
Page 17: provides some simple strategies for kids that you can expand upon.
- Some things are not for kids and can be troubling.
- Look away quickly or cover your eyes.
- If something makes you feel bad, talk to a safe adult.
- When images are troubling, we can choose to leave them behind.
Page 18: helps kids learn to refocus and provides clear steps:
- Focus on breathing to calm down
- Listen for the quiet voice that helps guide them to make good choices
- We can all take charge of our thoughts and our actions
Page 19: offers some final advice for kids from Milly.
Page 22: provides a simple activity for kids, reminding them of the 3 action steps learned throughout the book:
- Look away
- Tell someone safe
- Train my brain