Every alternate day, we hear about child abuse and sexual harassment of children in news papers, on TV, through different Internet forums. Being a parent, we start worrying about our children. If you have a girl child then the worry is multiplied many folds. We want to do so much to avoid any such incident, that can damage the child for life on all the fronts.
What can we do to avoid child abuse? Can we correct external world? Can we protect children every moment? No? Then the best way is educate children. Equip them to avoid such incidences. Next question is – what do I teach my children about this? Answer – educate them about the good touch bad touch, and differentiation of those. Teach them child safety rules. We can do much more. Let us see what..
Talk to Them
Many times, (what I have observed in India), parents themselves avoid talking on these topics to children. They feel shy themselves when they think of educating children about sex and sexual organs. During bath time, as a mom (even a father) comes across a question from child – what is this? Instead of avoiding the question or telling child not to ask such questions, tell anatomy/biological/medical name of that organ, along with general purpose that child knows. Avoiding or asking to avoid will raise curiosity and child will explore it further, may be in wrong direction somewhere outside. These questions are going to come, so better to be prepared for them. If not, then some day you can take initiative and educate just like other information. While watching TV or movie, you may have to take initiative to introduce certain things according to the age of child. The information should be passed just like any other information in light and easy way. It can be a discussion same as you telling information about a sport.
Break the Ice
Create a relation with children so that the children do not hesitate to ask any question related to reproductive organs or sex. If child tries to find answers on their own or outside, child may end up getting same information in wrong sense. Even he can hit pornographic material to find the answers. If a healthy environment is already there, we can give scientific answers and solve the problem. We can answer the queries in appropriate language with appropriate information. Children must have confidence in parents about secrecy and ability to solve these queries satisfactorily.
Identify Private Parts
As an adult, we can identify quickly, but, for children there is a need of a simple rule. Another reason to have this rule is – as a grown up person, we can feel touch differently to those parts, children may not feel the same way. Many people apply swim suite rule. The body parts that we cover with swim suite, are private parts in general. One can also add surrounding body parts to this list. As a parent, one should teach this to their children. One can also take help of child’s picture to identify such parts.
Who can Touch Private Parts?
Answer is strict – parents and doctor (or rarely anybody else) in presence of parents. I doubt if anybody else other than this but there can be couple of others but only in case of emergency.
The Good Touch
Here the duration of touch, parts, purpose, and person, all these will come in picture. The duration has to be mostly from very short to short. No body other than above designated people touch to private parts. Purpose comes in picture for private parts and if long duration then for non private parts also. Doctors can touch private parts in case of medical problem in presence of parents for a very short duration by telling the purpose. Basically the thumb rules can be put in place for who can touch touch private parts, and duration restriction for non private parts.
Touching private parts by not allowed persons, touching without purpose, touching non private parts for duration longer or fiddling those, touching frequently, etc. can be termed as bad touch.
Tell the Action/Reaction in Case of Bad Touch
This is must. Children should know the action/reaction children should take if they identify a touch as a bad touch. These are to enable children to avoid any possible abuse. The actions can be – leaving the place and reaching safer place/people like parents, teacher, group of friends, immediately, asking the person loudly not to do so, and also in some cases hitting to protect oneself etc. But the must thing is – telling the incidence immediately to parents without any fear. That is why the ice breaking has to happen between children and parents on such subjects. Parents should take appropriate action when such incident is reported, so that it is never repeated again, and also child does not live under fear.
What to Educate When
This is another interesting aspect. We can not teach each and everything at the early age, in one go. This education is continuous process. Look at age of children and ensure that applicable knowledge is with children then. E.g. a 3-4 years kid might just know anatomy names of reproductive organs, while a teenager might have gone through sexual education aspects. As age increases, keep providing information. But it should not be a daily discussion topic. Higher frequency of discussion may attract kids on that topic and they may start exploring those beyond education. Light, natural once a while discussion is good to teach.
This is very sensitive topic from children, parents and society point of view. If we don’t educate our children properly, the impact of incidences can destroy children also. Hence educate to prevent such incidences.