Did you know that over 53% of the children in India have faced child sexual abuse and that the child knew the perpetrator in most cases? This has been revealed in a survey sponsored by the ministry of Women and Child Development.
With the increasing complexities of social life, it is becoming imperative to empower children, from the age of 3, on wards, with right knowledge about their own body parts, privacy needs and personal space. The information, generally referred to as ‘Good touch and Bad touch’ is meant to keep them safe from molestation or child abuse of any sort.
As per the manual of Kids Safety Council, here is a quick compilation of what parents need to teach children to protect them from any trauma.
Step 1: Give your child the right information about Child Sexual Abuse and Child Abuse
- Teach them the correct names of all their body parts, including the private parts.
- Teach them about four major private zones of the body, i.e., Mouth, Chest, Buttocks and the area between legs. Tell them explicitly that these four zones are not to be touched or seen by anybody, except for the mother. That too until a certain age while giving the child a bath or dressing the child. Doctors or nurses can check their private zones but only in presence of mom or dad. This is essential to protect children from child sexual abuse at the hands of trusted people.
- Help children to understand that their body belongs to them, or that “they are the boss of their body”.
- Explain the details about three kinds of touches to the child. These are: Safe touch which make children feel secure, happy and good about the person; Unsafe touch which make children feel threatened or hurt them like hitting, pushing, punching, etc.; Unwanted touch, that makes a child feel uncomfortable and not so good about the person who is touching her.
Step 2: Teach the child the safety rules and protect them from becoming victims of abuse
- Do not touch anyone’s private parts.
- Do not allow anyone else to touch their own private parts.
- Avoid and report if anyone touches their private parts in other’s presence. This important point, sometimes overlooked, also falls under the purview of child abuse and/or child sexual abuse. It is punishable by law.
- Do not allow anyone to take photographs with clothes taken off.
- Tell the child that he or she should not take off clothes in front of anyone. Only doctors or nurses can and that too for medical examination in the presence of parents.
- It is not alright if anyone is showing videos or pictures of people without clothes on.
- If the child does not feel good about some kind of touch, teach her to say a firm ‘No!’ and even shout out for help, if needed.
- Teach child to avoid the person with whom she is not feeling good. She should report about it immediately to a trusted person like parents or teachers or any other elderly person whoever available first.
- Teach the child not to keep any secret from parents, especially the mother. Help child feel confident and share her mind. Open communication lessens the trauma and does not let the child feel victimized or ashamed. In most child sexual abuse cases shame is a weak link on which the perpetrator builds the crime.
- Make child learn about the child helpline number, 1098. Tell her to seek for immediate help whenever she senses any danger for him/herself or even for any other child.
- Help child believe that if someone does something wrong, it is that person’s fault and the child should not feel guilty or ashamed.
- Teach child to never accept gifts from anyone if the person asks the child to keep any secret from parents.
Any person (including a child) can be prosecuted for engaging in a sexual act with a child irrespective of whether the latter consented to itPOSCO ACT, 2012
Step 3: How to help children distinguish between ‘Good touch and Bad Touch’?
- A good touch is which the child gets from parents that makes him/her feel secure and happy, like parental hugs and kisses on cheeks or forehead. Whereas a bad touch is the touch that makes child feel scared, nervous and ashamed. It can be termed as child abuse and/or child sexual abuse.
- Grandparents and other family members’ loving and caring touch is good touch, but a touch that is forced and if it hurts, it is always a bad touch.
- Teacher’s or anyone else’s pats on head or shoulder is a good touch. However, touch in the private parts are bad touch.
- Explain to your kid that brief friendly hugs or kisses on cheeks or foreheads are okay but they should not allow anyone to kiss them on the mouth.
- Shaking hands or giving high-fives is good. Whereas hitting, slapping, spitting, pushing or punching are bad.
- Receiving small gifts or candy’s from a trusted loving person is good, but if the person talks about playing secret games or asks her/him to keep some secret from parent and others that is bad.
Step 4: How parents can implement the guidelines
- Parents can watch ‘Good touch and Bad touch’ videos with the child. Later discuss the video summary to see what the child has understood. Child abuse/child sexual abuse/child molestation videos easily available on the internet.
- There are many videos available now days, but choose the age and gender appropriate one for guiding your child. Two recommended videos in this regard are: “My body belongs to me” most appropriate for children of ages between 3 years to 6 years (especially for boys). The other is “Komal” appropriate for children of ages between 7 years to 10 years (especially for girls). Parents should watch them first alone, to understand the appropriateness, before watching with the child.
- Give your child an imaginary situation of unsafe/ unwanted touch and ask her the safety measure she will take to get away from the situation. This will help parents be sure that the children have actually understood the points on keeping themselves safe.
As parents, make a concentrated effort to rid ourselves of mental stigma attached with talking about body parts. It is important to keep communication flowing to educate them rightly and to ensure personal safety. Help them be safe.
You can also check out the POSCO website to know your rights and protection measures.