December 2007 - December 2022
Lauren’s Kids 15-Year Anniversary
December 2022 marks the 15th anniversary since founding of Lauren’s Kids! Every journey begins with a single step…thank you for walking with us and joining in the mission to prevent child sexual abuse and help survivors heal. Together, we have walked thousands of miles in the name of child protection, marched through halls of power to influence legislative change, and educated millions of children and adults to help stop abuse in its tracks. With many milestones now in our past, we are looking to the future, toward new and even greater goals in the fight to prevent abuse and support survivors. Take a look back at all we’ve accomplished together throughout the last 15 years!
"We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
― Maya Angelou"
2001 At the age of 16, Lauren’s Kids’ Founder and CEO Senator Lauren Book first discloses the daily physical, sexual, and emotional abuse she has suffered for 6 years, perpetrated by a loved and trusted caregiver who lived in her family’s home. She begins the hard work of healing, a lifelong journey which is often several steps forward and several steps back.
2002 Lauren’s abuser is convicted and sent to prison.
2003 After being denied access to her abuser’s HIV and AIDS test results, Lauren worked to pass a law ensuring other survivors have access to these results in a timely manner. This was only the beginning of Lauren’s advocacy journey, and from 2003 - 2006, while attending the University of Miami, she continued working with her father, influential lawyer/lobbyist Ron Book, to change and shape laws to better prevent sexual violence and support survivors.
December 2007 Lauren’s Kids is founded as an official 501(c)(3) by Lauren and Ron Book with the mission of preventing sexual abuse through education and awareness and helping survivors heal with guidance and support. The foundation continues to focus on legislative advocacy, as well as public awareness, and also operates a survivor hotline answered by Lauren.
2008 Lauren graduates from the University of Miami with a degree in Elementary Education and begins traveling from classroom to classroom in South Florida teaching safety lessons to students, educators, and parents. She is often turned away by administrators and told, “No thanks, we don’t have that problem here.” Sadly, we know the problem exists everywhere.
2010 Lauren embarks upon her inaugural Walk in My Shoes event, traversing 500 miles from the South Florida home in which she was abused to the steps of the Historic State Capitol in Tallahassee in the name of child protection, public awareness, and to let fellow survivors know that it’s OK to tell – and it’s OK to heal. The walk takes place in April during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Lauren’s legislative advocacy coupled with her father’s lobbying efforts result in the elimination of Florida’s criminal and civil Statute of Limitations for minors under 16 who have experienced sexual assault. This marks nearly a dozen laws influenced by the father-daughter team.
Lauren's Kids secured the ability to launch its “Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse” Voluntary Contributions program through the Division of Motorist Services where Floridians can donate $1 or more when renewing their drivers license and/or renewing their license plates. Funds generated goes directly toward the prevention of sexual abuse through awareness and education to help survivors heal with guidance and support.
2011 Lauren embarks on her second annual Walk in My Shoes journey, increasing the length of her trek to cover 1,000 miles from the Southernmost Point of the United States in Key West to the steps of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. The walk again takes place in April during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
The Florida Legislature provides funding for Lauren’s Kids’ Safer, Smarter Kids curriculum to be used in more than 16,000 public school Kindergarten and Voluntary Pre-K classrooms across Florida.
Lauren’s memoir, It's Ok to Tell: A Story of Hope and Recovery, is published. “The world is lucky to have Lauren and her father out there advocating, because neither of them will stop until families are made aware of the dangers that lurk in unexpected places”. - Lisa Ling
2012 Lauren embarks on her third annual Walk in My Shoes journey, increasing the length of her trek to cover the East and West coasts of Florida on her 1,500-mile trek from the Southernmost Point of the United States in Key West to the steps of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. The walk again takes place over 42 days January and February during the Florida Legislative Session, in honor of the 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the U.S. today.
Florida schools begin implementing Lauren’s Kids’ Safer, Smarter Kids curriculum across the state. Following national coverage of Jerry Sandusky’s abuse and Penn State University’s failure to report, Lauren and Ron Book work with Florida legislators to pass The Protection of Vulnerable Persons Act, requiring all Floridians report known or suspected child abuse with felony charges for failure to report.
2013 Following the expansion of Florida’s mandatory reporting law, Lauren’s Kids and the Florida Department of Children and Families roll out the “Don’t Miss the Signs” campaign, educating adults on the signs of abuse and their responsibility to report; the award-winning awareness campaign has been replicated throughout the country.
Lauren’s Kids hosts its fourth Walk in My Shoes trek, 1,500-miles from Key West to Tallahassee, with stops on both coasts, over 42 days in March and April (SAAM), joined by survivors, advocates, and educators who teach the Safer, Smarter Kids curriculum.
Lauren is named the National L’Oreal Woman of Worth for her work to prevent childhood sexual abuse and help survivors heal with the Lauren’s Kids foundation.
Lauren travels to the Caribbean Basin with Crime Stoppers International to teach the Safer, Smarter Kids program and conduct trainings with educators.
2014 Lauren’s Kids foundation hosts its fifth Walk in My Shoes statewide walk, logging 1,500 miles across the state of Florida to empower survivors and educate communities, ending at the steps of the Historic Capitol in Tallahassee to advocate for the successful passage of the most comprehensive legislative package on child protection in the history of the state of Florida.
Lauren’s Kids message continues to be spread internationally when Lauren provides the keynote address at the Dutch National Rapporteur's Symposium on Sexual Violence Against Children in The Hague, Netherlands, in conjunction with the release of the Netherlands' first-ever national study on child sexual abuse. Later the same year, Lauren travels to South Africa to speak at the Crime Stoppers International Conference and travels the country teaching prevention education lessons, volunteering with survivors groups, and providing trainings to advocates.
2015 Lauren and Lauren’s Kids trek the state of Florida for the sixth time, bringing total miles walked in the name of child protection to 7,500 since 2010. On the road, Lauren is joined by thousands of survivors and advocates choosing to “Lace Up, Speak Up” and make their voices heard.
Lauren’s children’s story book, Lauren’s Kingdom, is published to teach children that “If you’re choking back tears and your heart’s filled with fears, you know very well, It’s OK to Tell.” The book becomes a Publisher’s Weekly best-seller and helps children stay safe. Lauren’s Kids’ prevention education curriculum grows to span K-12; existing Safer, Smarter Kids elementary program is joined by the Safer, Smarter Teens program for middle and high school. The full suite of Safer, Smarter Schools prevention curriculum is the first-of-its-kind school-based curriculum being used to educate children in classrooms across the country as well as internationally, thanks to partnerships with UNICEF and Crime Stoppers International. Lauren’s Kids and the New York Yankees Foundation partner for the first Kids Care Walk through the Bronx, modeled after the foundation’s annual “Walk in My Shoes” advocacy walk. Students from local schools advocated for themselves and their classmates as they walked flanked by NYPD through the streets of New York to Yankee Stadium for a rally declaring kids’ right to safety.
2016 Lauren’s Kids releases an economic and human impact study showing millions of dollars in costs to child sexual abuse victims and society annually – with victims more likely to drop out of school, develop mental health disorders, suffer from addiction and substance abuse, become incarcerated, suffer future abuse, and more. Prevention is key, and with intervention and trauma-informed care, healing is possible.
Lauren presents a TED Talk at Oxford University’s TEDxOxford entitled “Find Your X…but First, Find Your (Wh)Y?” focused on raising awareness about childhood sexual abuse and the effects of trauma, while reminding viewers that there is power to be found in your life’s darkest moments. Lauren’s Kids wins a Suncoast EMMY Award for its public awareness announcement (PSA) titled “What If I Told You…” Lauren’s Kids and the New York Yankees Foundation host their second Kids Care Walk through the Bronx with 500 students and teachers. Lauren’s Kids launches the SaferSmarterFamilies.org safety toolkit to provide safety tips and tools for families with children of all ages.
In November, Lauren – pregnant with twins – is elected to the Florida Senate, where she will take her advocacy for children and sexual assault survivors to a new level.
2017 In April during National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Prevention Month, Lauren’s Kids and the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence host a “Walk in My Shoes” display at the Florida Capitol – where Lauren is now serving as a Senator. The display features the voices of survivors from across the state, sharing their stories and their hopes for change in the place where change is made. Brave survivors from the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center in Panama City and BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse) joined Lauren in asking her colleagues to pay attention to the issue of sexual violence and support legislative efforts for change.
Lauren’s Kids commemorates championing more than two dozen changes in law – with Lauren and Ron leading Lauren’s Kids’ legislative efforts, and support from survivors and advocates. This year’s legislative package includes expanding admissibility of service animals, therapy animals, or courtroom dogs for victims in proceedings involving abuse, abandonment, or neglect. The Yankees release a PSA with Lauren’s Kids and the two organizations host their third Kids Care Walk through the Bronx with more than 1,000 students and teachers following the fatal shooting of a student walking on his way to school. The Guide to Hope & Healing is released as a resource to help families navigate the days, weeks, and years following a child’s disclosure of sexual abuse. The Guide is available both digitally and in printed form for families.
2018 Lauren’s Kids hosts a Walk in My Shoes display at the Florida Capitol during Legislative Session to raise awareness and advocate for the passage of the Foundation’s legislative agenda. The display features submissions of shoes and testimonies from survivors – sneakers, construction boots, high heels, ballerina shoes, toddler’s flipflops, and more – showing that anyone can be a victim of sexual violence, regardless of age, gender, profession, or socioeconomic status.
Lauren’s Kids hosts its eighth Walk in My Shoes 1,500-mile journey – this time trekking North to South, Panama City to Key West, as Lauren walked home from finishing her second Legislative Session as a Florida Senator, where she passed laws to enhance registration and internet tracking for sexual predators. This will be the foundation’s final Walk in My Shoes (for now…). The Yankees and Lauren’s Kids host their fourth Kids Care Advocacy Walk through the Bronx with more than 1,000 students and teachers walking to advocate for safety and being recognized at a Yankees game. Lauren’s Kids releases a second nationally broadcast PSA with CBS Cares to raise awareness about child sexual abuse, Lauren’s Kingdom, in conjunction with the release of the Lauren’s Kingdom mobile app and guided safety lessons to teach children that “It’s OK to Tell.” Lauren is awarded the GLAMOUR Woman of the Year “Heroes Among Us” Award, recognizing her work with Lauren’s Kids to prevent childhood sexual abuse and help survivors heal and her advocacy with the Florida Senate.
2019 Lauren’s Kids begins raising funds to rebuild the Gulf Coast Children’s Advocacy Center Trauma Therapy House after Category 5 storm Hurricane Michael struck the Florida panhandle in October of 2018.
Lauren and Lauren’s Kids supporters walked in the Capitol for more than 42 consecutive hours, in honor of the 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the U.S. today.
The Yankees and Lauren’s Kids host their fifth Kids Care Advocacy Walk through the Bronx with more than 1,000 students and teachers walking to advocate for safety and being recognized at a Yankees game.
Lauren’s Kids releases its Blueprint for Building Safer, Smarter Families activity pack to help caregivers teach elementary school-aged children personal safety lessons, focused on building safe relationships, safe communication, physical safety, personal safety, PLANs for safety, and digital safety.
2020 Lauren’s Kids hosted its second 42 Hours event at the Florida Capitol to raise awareness and urge changes in law during the 2020 Legislative Session, including a successful bill to stop predatory physicians sponsored by Sen. Book. Lauren and Lauren’s Kids supporters walked in the Capitol for more than 42 consecutive hours, in honor of the 42 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse living in the U.S. today.
In response to COVID-19, Lauren’s Kids worked quickly to digitize resources for educators and families, while releasing digital programming and resources to keep kids safe and help survivors navigate the trauma triggers from the pandemic. The Foundation worked with law enforcement to raise awareness and educated parents about how predators seeking to exploit and harm children have gone online, just as their intended victims have - leading to upticks in digital predation. Lauren’s Kids and AshBritt break ground on their rebuild of the Gulf Coast CAC Trauma Therapy House after the treatment center was destroyed in October of 2018 by Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm.
2021 Lauren’s Kids joins with AshBritt to unveil the results of their completed multi-year rebuild of the Gulf Coast Children's Advocacy Center Trauma Therapy House following the destruction of Hurricane Michael in October of 2018. The effort was documented in TV awareness program Journey Home, broadcast across Florida during April, showcasing the resilience of survivors while raising awareness about the critical work of children’s advocacy centers and the issue of childhood sexual abuse.
Lauren's Kids launches its first 42 Miles for the 42 Million virtual walk during National Child Abuse Prevention Month in honor and recognition of the 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse living in the U.S. today. The effort raises more than $42,000 toward programs to educate children in prevention and safety.
Lauren’s Kids releases a study finding 1 in 4 college athletes has been sexually harassed or abused by an authority figure on college campuses, calling for greater protections for student athletes.
Lauren’s Kids nationally broadcasts a new PSA in June for digital safety month, warning that the Internet can be a playground for predators.
2022 Lauren’s Kids and the David Posnack JCC host the inaugural Be A Hero, Run4Kids run/walk 5k in Broward County, Florida to raise awareness and raise funds for abuse prevention and survivorship.
After becoming a victim of digital trafficking, Lauren changes the law to combat the proliferation of digital sex crimes and digital trafficking of stolen materials and works with the BBC on a documentary focused on the issue. In April, the Foundation again hosts its digital 42 Miles for the 42 Million awareness walk, challenging participants to walk 42 miles throughout in honor of National Sexual Assault Awareness Month & National Child Abuse Prevention Month, in honor and recognition of the 42 million survivors of child sexual abuse living in the U.S. today. Throughout the month, Lauren’s Kids encourages survivors and allies to “Stand in Your Power” – focusing on the power of your voice and your truth, the power of your allyship, the power of healing, and the power of prevention. Lauren’s Kids hosts its inagural Celebrity Golf & Gala event series at the Turnberry Isle and Seminole Hard Rock in South Florida, raising money to benefit the Foundation’s efforts to prevent child sexual abuse throught edudcation and awareness and help survivors heal with guidance and support. The Foundation launches its Safer, Smarter Kids curriculum version 2.0, with reimagined videos and designed use for in-person, blended, and fully digital learning modalities.
December 2022 Lauren’s Kids celebrates 15 years of shining light in dark places. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey as we work to keep kids safe. We could not do what we do without each and every one of you.