An interactive app to teach children about stranger danger and the process of sexual abuse - to learn how to say no and ask for help.
||By Hooooo Foundation
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Free (basic); paid upgrade
The free version stops abruptly very early in the story. It costs NZD $7 to unlock. This is not mentioned on the app download page.
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What does the app do?
Meeka's Secret is an app that aims to open the lines of communication on stranger danger and child sexual abuse. The app can help parents to become aware, educated, and feel comfortable to talk to their child about sexual abuse. It can be used a preventive tool or as a start to a road to recovery for children who have been sexually abused.
The app tells the story of a gender-neutral insect, Meeka, whose wings are considered its private parts that should not be touched by others. When an adult insect touches Meeka’s wings, the little one becomes confused about how to respond and react. Through stunning digital artistry and powerful storytelling, viewers are taught how to speak up, self-advocate and heal.
For the complete app description, go to iTunes or for a detailed review, see Reviews.
✔ Input from several psychologists.
✔ Professional voice acting.
✔ Visually engaging with beautiful artwork.
✔ Covers saying no, asking for help, emotional resilience, guilt, compassion, depression, shame and fear.
✘ The free version stops abruptly very early in the story. It costs NZD $7 to unlock. This was not mentioned on the app download page.
✘ Most children are abused by family members or other trusted people known to them, often repeatedly. The app doesn’t cover this unfortunate reality. The abuser in the story is a stranger who abuses her once (he “touches her wings”) which is a less common scenario.
✘ The app recommends speaking to your parents, which would not be helpful if the parent(s) were the abusers. It would be better if the app let you choose who to talk to and then continue the story from there.
✘ The game section was visually appealing, but the gameplay had some issues. It is a platformer, and they have tried to simplify it by only allowing the user to jump while Meeka moves automatically. The gameplay felt unresponsive and twice Meeka became stuck due to being unable to control the movement direction and I had to restart both times.
Date of review: February 2019
Platform reviewed: Android
Updated on: 28/01/2019
Download size: 81.79 MB
The following links have more resources on child sexual abuse.
Child abuse KidsHealth, New Zealand
Parents Child Matters New Zealand
Are your kids safe (Te Reo) New Zealand Police
The underwear rule One in Five, Council of Europe
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Reviewer: Jeremy Steinberg, GP, RNZCGP
Date of review: February 2019
Comments: This app is designed for children (6-11 years) who have been sexually abused, but it could also be used in a preventative fashion. It is ideally used alongside the child’s guardian(s). The app covers saying no, asking for help, emotional resilience, guilt, compassion, depression, shame and fear.
Through a narrated book, the child follows Meeka an insect in a bug world who is abused by a stranger. There is an interlude with a platforming game where Meeka escapes from the abuser. The app then finishes with a further narrated story outlining the sequelae of the abuse where Meeka opens dialogue with her parents and starts the road to recovery.
Some examples of the language used:
- “He felt a tiny tug on his wings. Meeka was confused. Meeka knew that a bug should never touch another bug’s wings. It’s an insect’s private part”
- “Life is like music. Anything that happens in your life is like one note in that music…you are the dancer who dances to the music…The music, sweet or angry, is not you. You are the dancer and you can always, always learn and change the way you dance.”
The developers are not clear that payment is required for the whole story. The free version cuts off abruptly very early and would not be of any use to the target audience. It costs NZD $7 to unlock.
Overall, I think this would be a helpful app for the target audience. The caveats I have are that most abuse is perpetrated by trusted individuals not strangers, and that the child’s parents may not be the best option to ask for help and may be the perpetrators themselves. I look forward to the companion app (The Flower’s Secret, in development at the time of writing) which will use principles of cognitive behavioural therapy and mindfulness to help recovery.
Safety concerns: None.
New Zealand relevance: This app is designed for use by a wide audience.