Save Kids: Sensitize Them About Good and Bad Touch
One in every two kids in India faces sexual abuse of some kind, as against the global average of one in five. You need to sensitize your child about the good and the bad touch. If you find it uncomfortable to talk about this subject with your child, remember that it will be even more difficult for your child to seek help if (s)he is subjected to abuse.
A study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development of India in 2007 had shocking revelations to make. Out of the sample:
- 53.2% of children reported having faced sexual abuse; among them 52.9% were boys and 47.1% were girls
- Children from Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar and Delhi reported the highest percentage of sexual abuse
- In half of the cases, abusers were known to the child or were in a position of trust and responsibility, and most children had not reported the matter to anyone
Indians need to go beyond birds and bees when talking to their kids. Not talking about such issues would only expose your kids to a range of risks. The comparative figures in western countries, where such discussions are not shunned, are about 20% of total kids. Clearly, the morality brigade and propaganda has worsened the situation in India. The governments in some states and UTs (for instance Delhi) have started programmes, such as TV and radio commercials, to sensitize kids, but such attempts will remain effete until the parents themselves get involved, especially since teachers in our schools are yet not conditioned to talk on such matters with sensitivity. Halabol brings to you a special feature on how to sensitize your kids about the Good and the Bad Touch.
Tell Them About Various Body Parts
You can start your conversations with the usual stuff, such as nose, teeth, lips and what all functions they perform. If you cannot really begin talking about private parts, including penis, vagina and breasts, tell them that there are certain body parts that are not to be revealed – the undergarment rule would help. The rule states that all the parts covered by undergarments are to be guarded, and except when the child is made to bathe by parents or examined by a physician, should be the defining limit for someone’s seemingly affectionate touch. Make sure your child understands that:
- It is NEVER OK for someone to TOUCH, LOOK or TALK about one’s private body parts
- It is NEVER OK for someone older or bigger to ask the child to TOUCH, LOOK or TALK about his or her private body parts
Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror
Remember that you need to have these conversations more often.
Educate Them to Say No
Most child abusers use the guise of foods (candies, chocolates, etc.), various games or a retreat to a nearby getaway for having their evil way. Make it a strict rule in the family that everyone has to share if somebody offered anyone food or a little escapade. Start using examples, such as how somebody asked you and you refused.
Sensitize About Touch
You will need to use examples to help kids differentiate among various types of touches. Bring it to their notice how they feel happy when mom or dad take them in lap, or give them a peck on their cheek. Anything that makes them comfortable, such as a warm hug from parents, holding hands with friends while playing or sharing meals, should be clearly differentiated. Make it clear that strangers are not supposed to do these things, at least not when mom and dad are not present. Even when the parents are present, tell your kids to report anything uncomfortable or unpleasant. Your kids will have a natural ability to report any events that make them uneasy, unsafe or uncomfortable.
Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror
Encourage Sharing of Details
Your child will often talk about various things in an animated and often lengthy way. Encourage such talks with a warm smile. Never scold your child for blabbering. If there’s something urgent, remember to hear them back when you are free, and you WILL need to take out time to hear them out.
Keep a Track of Their Routine and Enquire Regularly
Ask questions about whosoever your child met on a given day and what all happened. Look out for the signs of any indecorous interaction.
Look Out For the Signs
Children often have an internal locus of world events. Experts tell how kids go and hide when there’s an accidental fire in the home, or how they blame themselves if their parents are parting ways. You need to dig deeper if your child shows any of the following signs:
- Unexpected or unusual response from the child when asked if he or she was touched
- Inordinate fear of a physical exam
- A noticeable fear of a person or certain places
- Drawings that show sexual acts
- Abrupt changes in behaviour, such as bed-wetting or losing control of his/her bowels
- Sudden awareness of genitals, and sexual acts and words
- Attempting to get other children to perform sexual acts
The Three Things Your Child Should Do When (s)he Notices a Bad Touch
If your child recognizes the difference between a good and a bad touch, (s)he would often categorize the latter into something that left him/her confused, uneasy, ashamed, uncomfortable, unsafe or gave a feeling of excitement or fear. If some touch left them having this feeling ask them:
- To straightway refuse that touch, by saying NO, and run away
- To tell it to you or anyone else they trust
- To KEEP TELLING until someone helps
Don’t Expect Your Child to Have Six-Sigma Accuracy
Naturally, there will be times when your child would misreport something, depending on his/her nature. However, chances of such reports are low, since kids lack the vocabulary to concoct the stories of abuse, but still, if you are reasonably sure that your child had an error of judgment, then please don’t freak out or get angry at your child. Instead, keep a vigil at the person your child implicated to make sure that you didn’t err; at the best, you can tell that person that it might have happened due to your precautionary lessons and grooming. Don’t worry about the morality brigade – your social reputation is no dearer than your child’s safety.
Never quickly jump to conclusions while talking to your child, but reassure him/her of help. Take the help of a child psychologist if you’re confused.
As explained earlier not only girls, but boys too, are subjected to abuse. It doesn’t matter if your child is precocious or dresses in a certain way. People with a dirty mind would never spare any kind of child. Such stuff can happen anywhere – at home or elsewhere; at an isolated place in dark or at a relatively public place.
You may take the help from the following sources if you want to explore more; the contents of these sources have been written from a western perspective – you will need to get innovative and create Indian characters and situations.
- www.underwearrule.org – a good source for the underwear rule, with helpful videos and books
This is an animated story book, available at Amazon; you’ll need to modify content to suit your child
This DVD has good videos to make your job simple.
Of course, nothing mentioned above can be a replacement for the conversation you must have.
Remember, a child is never too young to be taught these things, because abuse can happen at any age. If you find it uncomfortable to talk about this subject with your child, remember that it will be even more difficult for your child to seek help if (s)he is subjected to abuse.
(Rights of the pictures used above rest with their respective owners; they have been used for purely non-commercial purposes and we make no claim for their originality or ownership)
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