by Aruna Kamath
Child abuse around the world, particularly in India, has been on the rise at an alarming rate in the past few years. Almost every day we hear and read horrific incidents of child molestation and sex abuse. What is more disturbing is that India has the second highest number of recorded child abuse rate in the world after Africa. Statistics suggest that nearly 53% of children in our country are victims of sexual abuse with more than 7,200 children, including infants, raped every year. And, what’s worse, it’s rampant every where – in villages, towns and big cities as well!
Though huge awareness is being raised about the widespread child abuse, we’ve got a long way to go before we can quell it completely. However, we can help protect our children by educating them about it. Since most kids are unaware of these dangers, it becomes all the more important that we start early on, when kids are young and in a comprehensible age.
Education begins at home
As parents, the onus is on us to take the first step in teaching our kids about body safety rules. Before you begin to tell them about the good and bad touches, here are few things they should know.
Names of body parts: When we teach our children the names of the different body parts, most parents deliberately tend to give the private parts a miss. This is a big mistake we are making, as children find it hard to tell about sex abuse as they don’t know the specific words to use. So, don’t forget, when you’re teaching you child about the different body parts, do make sure to teach them the correct words for the private body parts, along with body parts liked “tongue, “tummy” , “lips” and “eyes”. You can also tell them that the parts of the body covered by the swim suit are the private body parts.
They are the boss of their body: Making it clear to your children that nobody has the right to touch their body. So even if it’s a touch from known member of the family, it’s perfectly ok to stop them and say ‘NO’. if a relative’s been insisting on a hug from your child and your child is refusing it, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Do tell your relative, that you are teaching your children to be bosses of their bodies as part of teaching them safety about touching, so not to be unduly offended by the child’s peculaiar behavior.
The different kind of touches: Essentially there are three types of touches that your child should know.
Safe touches: These are safe and feel-good touches that will make the child feel comfortable and cared for. It could be a tight hug, holding hands, a massage maybe, or even a friendly pat.
Unsafe touches: these are touches that hurt the children – both physically as well as emotionally. Kicking, pinching, hitting, punching. These can be harmful too.
Unwanted touches: These are safe touches, but often resisted. There are times when kids are not too comfortable in the presence of people who you may know well. They often shy away from them and resist their ‘touches’. Tell them its ok to say ‘no’, even if it’s a familiar person.
The reason for this is children are often frightened or not assertive enough to say ‘no’ to an adult who could be a molester. So its most important, teach your child that she / he has to be bold enough to say ‘NO’ to someone who makes them feel frightened, or uncomfortable.
Body safety rules
Once your child knows the names of the private body parts and the kind of touches, it’s easy to teach them the difference between good and bad touch.
Good Touch: A good touch is a safe touch. When mom, dad, grandma and grandpa hug and kiss. A good touch is also when mom is trying to keep you clean by changing diapers or washing you.
Bad touch: A bad touch is a touch that is essentially an unsafe touch that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened. Explain to them that nobody is allowed is touch their private body parts and this the body safely rule to be followed. Even parents touch them only when they are bathing or cleaning, not otherwise. Essentially, you could also put it this way. The parts covered by the swim suit are private body parts and cannot be touched by anyone! When this becomes clear, it’s easy for them to recognize.
Teach your children these safety rules
· It is not okay to touch someone else’s private body parts.
· It is not okay for someone to touch his or her own private body parts in your presence.
· It is not okay for someone to ask you to touch his or her private body parts.
· It is not okay for someone to show you photos or videos of naked people
· You can decide who can touch you, who can kiss you, or who can give you a hug. You have the right to say, “no.”
What if you’ve experienced a bad touch?
· Run! As fast as you can and promise never to stay alone with that person ever!
· Scream or shout for help!
· Confide in someone you trust! Don’t keep it to yourself or hide it from your parents