Child sexual abuse is a topic, which is rarely discussed in the public domain, until a major controversy breaks through. Often, we find it morally difficult to talk about cases of child sexual abuse, even though, India witnesses a case every 10 minutes. It is ever so difficult for parents to acknowledge the travesty affecting their children. The fact is, each day, parents worry for their child’s safety, however, eight out of ten find it difficult or frivolous to talk to their children about this great travesty.
Many find it unnecessary to discuss the menace with their child or to make them aware about the “good touches” and the ‘bad ones’. Besides that, a parent cannot be present physically with their child 24*7, therefore, it is hugely important that the child is made aware about their body parts and how to deal with the unforeseen circumstances. Ever since I started writing professionally, Child sexual abuse is a topic that I really wanted to express my views upon. However, what I realised with time is that most parents found this topic unnecessary and lame. But the recent events of sexual offences against the three and four year olds, have changed the overall scenario and the time is ripe to talk about the growing ‘pest’. Hence, I realized it’s time that parents should realise the importance of educating their child about the Do’s and Don’ts. Also, schools should play a prominent role in making children aware about themselves. (Click here to read why it is important to include sex education in schools.)
Easy said than done…
Yes, it will be foolish and unpractical to talk straight about it with children. Also, there are chances that your child may choose to ignore it or may find it incredibly difficult to deal with it. Therefore, going indirect is the right way to make your child aware about the child sexual abuse.
1) Make Children aware about their Body parts
A child, who is in the age group of 3-4, more often than not, is aware about their body parts like hands, legs, face, etc. However, what they aren’t familiar with are the genital organs, which should not be touched by people other than their parents. Now, there are two ways of educating them about this.
- Talk straight: You can teach your child that they shouldn’t allow anyone except mom and dad to touch these parts.
- Indirect approach: Tell them a story relating to their favourite cartoon and how the protagonist never allowed anyone except the mom or the dad to touch these private body parts.
The most important point, however, is to repeat this process with your child, at least once in a week. Children, at a tender age, lack the long lasting memory of adults and tend to forget things. Therefore, it is important that these facets are taught to them regularly so as to inculcate these as a life long habit.
2)Difference between “Good touch” and “bad touch”
The second part of the child sexual abuse prevention is to make children understand the difference between a friendly touch (good touch) and a bad touch. This has to be taught with a lot of caution as this could also backfire, as a child may regard a friendly poke as a bad touch, therefore necessitating a lot of thoughtfulness. In our ‘friendly’ society, it is very common for people to touch and kiss children, and rarely would a parent discourage such an approach towards their child. Some examples of a bad touch can be a long rub on the back or a pinch anywhere or even a prolonged cheek pulling followed by a lot of touches.
Parents could play a game where each bad touch could be marked with a sad sticker, and a good touch be marked as a laughing smiley. This would, in a friendly way, educate a child the difference between a good and a bad touch.
It is imperative to keep children motivated and focused enough to play this game often. Again, we have to repeat and talk about it again and again for them to remember it.
It may take some time for the kids to understand and comprehend any of this at all.
I wish all parents realize the prominence of talking about child sexual abuse at an early age (I wish we didn’t have to but we need to) and continue talking about it for many more years till they are old enough to clearly understand it.