We explain our children about potential dangers they may face, to avoid any mishap. We teach them how to cross roads by looking in both directions, not to take chocolates from strangers. But we shy away from explaining them about child abuse or a bad touch.
The fact is your child is more likely to be subjected to abuse than hit by a car and this molestation is more likely from a known person rather than a stranger. Nothing can guard our kids completely against child abuse, but making them aware is a major step which can prevent and stop abuse.
Statistic indicates that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are molested before the age of 18. However, this is just an estimate and the actual could be different as most cases go uninformed.
Here are few things we should teach our children,
- We teach our kids about nose, mouth, ears, etc. Similarly explain them proper names for private parts, since most of the times kids are not able to tell about abuse, because they cannot explain the names.
- Let children know that they are the boss of their body and nobody can touch their body without their consent. If a kid doesn’t want to hug or kiss relative or even parents, don’t force them. This will inculcate the feeling of confidence and ownership in them.
- Explain kids the various kind of touch like,
Safe touch – The touches which makes them feel loved, like hugging, a pat on back, and hand on shoulder. Also if parents or caretaker has to touch the kid’s private part for cleaning or keeping them healthy, it is a safe touch.
Unsafe touch – When a child feels hurt, like hitting, pushing, kicking or pinching, tell them it is an unsafe touch.
Unwanted touch – Explain your kids that some touches may be safe, may not even hurt but they do not want it and concerns their private part are unwanted touch. Such touch should be avoided.
- Teach your children safety rules like- It is not okay for someone to touch your private parts or ask you to touch theirs. It is not okay for someone to ask you to take your clothes off or take photos/videos without your clothes. Also if someone tries to show you videos/photos of people without their clothes that is incorrect.
- Explain your child they have authority to say NO when some tries to touch them.
- Tell your kids, you would believe everything they say, so that they are not afraid of not being believed. Most abusers terrify kids by saying that nobody will believe them or it is a secret. Also explain them secrets shared with parents are still secrets.
- Help you kid identify a trustworthy adult in family with whom they can share problems.
- Be involved with the kid’s life, this helps in identifying change in behaviour which may be due to child abuse. Also, this makes kids comfortable and they can open up easily.
- Convince your child that if someone touches or abuses them it is not their fault.
- Convince them they cannot be harmed if they reveal anything bad that has happened to them.
Make sure, you explain all these to your kids at the right time. Children as young as 4 yrs can understand the concept of good and bad touch, and that is the right time to start. Children between 4-12 yrs are at most risk. As responsible parents it is your duty to teach them about different touches and help prevent child molestation.