07 Apr Child Sexual Abuse: Prevention
I shuddered at the thought of what had happened to my friend’s daughter. How could someone be so cruel? How could they sexually abuse a 9-year-old? How did the parents not know? All these questions and thoughts just made me nauseous and I prayed that no child should ever have to bear such trauma.
There has been a lot of news about sexual abuses and assault in the papers lately, but it gets most disturbing and gut-wrenching when something this horrible happens to a child. As parents, we teach our children every possible way to protect themselves from cut and bruises. But, when it comes to talking about sexual consent, the topic is avoided until the child has reached a certain age or in India- Never. Why? Because it’s embarrassing?
According to research by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it was estimated that 1 out 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys are subjected to the horrors of being sexually assaulted prior to the age of 18. A government-commissioned survey states that about 53% of Indian children are subjected to sexual assault, which means that every second person we meet has survived the trauma at some point in their early life. This is a disturbing and scary number for parents everywhere. You might say that your child is always within your eyesight. But, ask yourself how true the statement really is, because, at some point or other, your child has been out playing, at school, or with family or friends.
Child sexual abuse is a serious offense and can leave a child’s innocence scarred for life. That is why parents need to ensure taking measures that can shield their child from such a horrific experience. Here are some ways to help your child from this horrific incident ever happening to them.
Talk to your Child About Private Body Parts
Children are often ashamed of talking about their private body parts because parents often try to shush them out of embarrassment. If as a parent you have been doing that, you must stop it. Yes, talking about private body parts when an audience is present can be inappropriate, but when it’s just you and your kid there nothing to be embarrassed about. You have to be more frank to your kids around this area of discussion. Your child must understand that the private body parts are called so for a reason and that they must not touch anyone else there as anyone must not theirs. Sexual abuse always starts by someone touching these body parts on a child or by asking a child to touch them on someone else. Hence, it’s very important for a child to be aware of this point most of all.
Tell Them Body Secrets are Not “Okay”
Sexual perpetrators usually tell children to keep the abuse a secret. These abuse use mental manipulation to ensure that the secret remains so by telling a child things like “Mummy is going to be very angry if you tell her” or “If you tell anyone, I am going to tell everyone that you are a bad child”. Poor children are already scared of losing their parents’ love and they remain quiet while things keep getting worse. Hence, it is necessary to talk about not keeping secrets from them ever especially if it involves their body. You also need to ensure them that you would never stop loving them no matter what, and it was okay to tell them anything and they would understand.
Listen to your Child Carefully
Another reason why child abuse goes unchecked at an early stage is that parents refuse to listen to their children. Most parents often take children’s complaints on such matters as a childish prank and ignore it. This leaves a child helpless because the last person whom they thought would understand them, didn’t. Irrespective of the nature of a complaint that your child has against anyone, you need to listen. This way you can keep them away from people who are harming them; also indicating to your child that you really mean it when you say you support them.
Teach them to Say “No”
Society has always taught us to respect elders and never disobey them. But, now, it’s time to tell your child that it is alright to say no sometimes, especially in discomforting situations. Tell your child, if there ever was a situation where he was faced by an adult, touching his/her private parts without consent, to make an excuse to get out of the situation like saying that they needed to go potty and would be right back. Other than that, tell a child to always be mindful and never linger around somebody’s home, unless everyone else was present; to never play alone in any of the rooms, and most importantly to never stay back if only one member of the family was at home. All these situations make them more vulnerable and accessible to the perpetrators since no one is around to protect the innocent souls.
Child abuse can have a deeply negative impact on the mental and physical development of a child that could last them a lifetime. Many children grow up to become distant, depressed, and even suicidal with time, which can lead to other behavioral issues like drug abuse and violent reactions. Parents have to begin educating their child early rather than shying away by treating the topic as taboo. Child abuse has to curbed and this can only start through you, the closest person a child has, the parents.
We, at OckyPocky, are teaching your kid good touch and bad touch in the most interactive way possible. Do check it out by downloading the app and share your feedback with us. Let’s pledge to keep little India safe!