Beware Parents

Father and mother kissing daughter

Maneka Khanna
Nobody said parenthood was easy. The task is far scarier when we come across the growing number of cases of child sexual assaults and abuse. In 2007 The Indian government backed a survey of 125000 children in thirteen states. Of the children interviewed, more than half (53%) said that they had been subjected to one or more forms of sexual abuse. Over 20% of those interviewed said they were subjected to severe forms of abuse. Of those who said they were sexually abused, almost half of them were boys
So, can we afford to behave like pigeons that close their eyes to danger and believe that if they can’t see a problem it doesn’t exist? Should we behave ignorant about the sinister acts of pedophiles that have come to hound us every day in media in one city or the other? Or are we arrogant enough to assume that predators attack the children from weaker sections of society and broken homes? These questions are rhetoric and the sinner knows nothing other than to sin. The need of the day is to make our children aware and equip them to deal with the situation if the need arises. This article is for parents who have children in the pre primary age group when they are most innocent and susceptible to fall victim to this crime.
Parents can start by taking
the following steps
After teaching various body parts to children, parents should also clearly explain private parts to them. The parts covered by swimming costumes are private parts. For boys it is brief areas and hips; for girls it is chest, panty areas and hips.
Teach the children correct names of his or her anatomy and never crack jokes about their bodies.
Insist on the fact that they are the owners of their bodies.
Tell the children why these parts are called “private parts”( because they can be seen by nobody but us and our parents)
Children need to be told about a “good touch” and a “bad touch”.
Any touch that feels comfortable, safe and pleasant is a good touch e.g. hugs and kisses by parents and grandparents, handshakes with strangers , pat by teachers , small hugs by friends etc
Any touch or act that hurts, injures or makes a child uncomfortable is a “bad touch” and has to be stopped immediately. Nobody except a child’s parents and doctors that too in presence of parents is allowed touch his or her body.
And if any child is accosted with someone who
a) Wants to SEE or SHOW their private parts, teach the child to shout a No.
Pedophiles generally bully, persuade or scare children to silence.
b) Wants to TALK about their private parts, child needs to shout a SHUT UP.
c) If while HOLDING tries to fondle with a child’s private parts – its best to RUN away where there are more people or in a crowd.
d) Any TOUCH that makes a child uncomfortable, calls for TO MAKE A SCENE and SHOUT a NO loudly.
Lips, hair, legs, face and arms though exposed are not to be touched without permission. “Most predators who have an on-going relationship with the child (teacher, coach, relative, neighbor…) will not begin by touching the child in the sensitive areas, but will begin by rubbing their back or stroking the hair-and children, because they are literal creatures, will think ‘well, I don’t like it, but it must be okay because it’s not covered by my swimming suit. ‘And then by the time predator moves to sexual areas, it may be too late. Therefore the line is “ANY touch that makes the child uncomfortable”.
Parents can use puppets to explain this to a child.
They can enact a role play for the child.
Videos are available on the YOU TUBE to help parents explain a BAD TOUCH.
Parents can do storytelling with the books available in the market e.g. NO TOUCH by Scholastic India.
Makes a child uncomfortable by their touch.
Insists on finding time to be “alone” with the child.
Spends time with children more than with adults.
Make way more effort to get close to children.
Your child tries to avoid being friendly with him/her.
Has a history of allegations leveled at him or her for any kind of physical abuse
Parents should Trust their instinct. If they feel something is fishy in someone do not allow your child to be alone with them. Please remember not all bruises are from playing, take note and ask your child always. Most of the cases are realized only when the child is very badly wounded but taking note of even small bruises is equally important. Watch out for behavioral change in a child such as sudden withdrawal from social gatherings, aggression, insomnia and eating disorders. In many cases for younger children, an unusual fear of certain places (such as closed or dark spaces) could be a telling sign. Most behavioral changes are subtle
If you need help –Call the National child relief helpline 1098. It was set up by Childline Foundation has a team of volunteers in many cities and districts of the country who partner with over 700 NGOs and the police. File a report with the police , or contact child rescue organizations such as Arpan, Save the child, Bosco, Rahi etc.