Child abuse is spreading across our society like a silent epidemic. Even as most parents feel their child is safe, and ‘such things’ only happen in the slums, the truth is that the perpetrators hide in our homes or schools, and at every level of society. So much emphasis is on touch because it is one of the most incredible and vital senses a baby is introduced to as early as in the mother’s womb. And these sexual predators make use of touch to abuse children. A child’s mind is tender and any form of inappropriate behavior can lead to permanent scars on their personality. Therefore, it is imperative that every child be educated about touch and how to distinguish an inappropriate one from an appropriate one.
The good touch
Children need to be told what a good touch feels like. Explain and demonstrate to them that a good touch is one that doesn’t make us uncomfortable. A pat on the back, friendly hugs and kisses on the forehead or cheeks, ruffling of hair, high fives, handshakes, and holding hands are all examples of a good touch. Also, ask them about the people who they like, love, or confide in. For example, parents, grandparents, and siblings are naturally included in this list. It is important to keep an eye on anyone who is close to the child or is suddenly gaining closeness, as many child abusers first gain the child’s confidence by starting with good touch, before actually going beyond.
The bad touch
Educating the child about their private parts at an age as early as 2.5 or 3 years is an essential step. Any behavior that makes a child feel uncomfortable, unpleasant, ashamed, or guilty, or leaves her in pain, is inappropriate.
Bad touch includes:
- Forced hugging, kissing or cuddling
- Touching, pinching or poking, patting the child on thighs or in their private parts
- Exposing the child to someone else’s private parts
- Showing videos/ photos containing nudity
- Denying your child privacy or exposing their body in public
Your child must be informed that it is okay for her mother to touch her private parts for the purpose of cleaning/ bathing and that no one else should be allowed to touch them in the same way.
Some other points that a parent should remember:
- Use age appropriate language. Keep the conversation easy and light.
- Do not be paranoid or show anxiety in front of your child.
- Observe any behavioral changes in your child such as irritability, fear, or aloofness.
- Give them the ownership of their body and empower them to say ‘no’.
- Take help of informative videos available online to teach your child.
- Help them trust you with their feelings. Listen to them.