CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE PREVENTION: TALKING TO CHILDREN
We’ve read about the myths of CSA and its effects both psychological and physiological on children. Now it’s time to learn about preventing it. This is the 3rd and final post of a three-part article.
Research has consistently shown that the child’s biggest vulnerability about CSA is his/her inability to speak about this to someone older and trusted in order to get help. Often this is accompanied by our discomfort as parents, teachers or adults to talk about such a sensitive issue with children. Understanding the importance of proactively seeking the required knowledge and skills to communicate with children is one way of playing our roles effectively. Furthermore, educating children about CSA is a vital tool for the prevention and timely addressal in terms of seeking help if they are ever to encounter such a situation.
In efforts to acquire these skills, we need to accomplish the following goals:
- Give specific, accurate and age-appropriate information about sexual abuse that will enable our children to recognize sexually abusive behavior.
- Teach specific ways to handle potentially dangerous situations.
- Encourage the child that s/he must tell you if anything like that happens.
To meet these goals, we can follow these guidelines:
- Explain to the child, which are the private parts of their body that need to be especially protected.
- Explain different types of touch, like:
- Good touch which makes you comfortable and loved, for example being hugged by Dadi or kissed by Amma.
- Bad touch which hurts you, for example, a slap or a hard push.
- Secret touch which makes you feels uncomfortable and embarrassed, e.g. sexual abuse of any sort or when the abuser asks you to keep the touching secret.
- Explain how to say ‘NO’ to any sort of touching that makes them uncomfortable.
- Give unconditional love and support.
HOW TO SUPPORT A CHILD WHO HAS BEEN SEXUALLY ABUSED
Parents/Caregivers/Guardians can also be a source of support if they find out that a child under their care has been sexually abused. Blaming the child, showing disbelief, expressing anger towards him/her, being emotionally overwhelmed, etc., are not helpful responses. Some more useful and comforting responses when a child discloses abuse are:
- “I believe you”
- “It is not your fault”
- “You did the right thing by telling someone”
- “I’m sorry this happened to you”
- “I’m sorry it happened”
- “I’ll try and help you so it won’t happen again”
In case of rape, it is important that a child is taken to a doctor for medico-legal examination so that evidence can be secured for legal purpose. Further can call on Helpline: 0800 22 444