When I got to know that I was carrying a baby girl in me, with things around me, hormone surge, the panic and fear knew no bounds and my thoughts used to run haywire in any direction on anything... but one thing has remained with me to date is the issues of child sexual abuse. I know, in a place like India where even talking about sex is a taboo, this debate would raise more than a few eyebrows.. when I even try to express such concern to anyone around me (rural AP) they kind of look at me as if I just invented that those are just my fears and NO ONE can dare do that to kids and especially not my kid.. what?? my kid is direct descendant of God is it to be immune to it if it does happen all around?? With so many psychos lurking around, it is really scary...
We are not raised to express anything, so if a kid is abused, he/she will keep it under wraps and suffer through it.. if not all the way, kids (both gender) and women are more prone to molestation attempts. It is scary to get into a bus in the cities, I had actually stopped getting into a bus for a while thanks to some really bad experiences... psychos lurking all over to touch, squeeze and do what not... out of shame, the girl/woman keeps quiet, the kids might not even know they are being used (scariest of all)...
I might be thinking too much but I cannot deny that things do happen.. I have heard about various stories from friends were the family friends scarred their lives with unwanted advances, touch and words.. it is really scary.. who do I trust my kid with...
So, whenever there is an open discussion, I try gathering points and make a note for myself.. For the starters, I ensure that the kid is with people who I trust absolutely and with no one else.. NO ONE else.. just my mom, maamas, buddu my maid. Just putting it up to share a few views of people across the globe that happen to find practicable.
If we are under the misconception that only girl child is at risk, then think again.. I guess both are equally at risk...
Infants to Toddlers
**Start early, never ever give the infant to anyone unless you trust them completely even for a few minutes.
**When bathing the kids, tell them about their private parts and no one, absolutely no one other than mommy, grandparent should touch their private parts. Assuming dad is used to giving the kid baths and cleaning up after potty session, we should include dad as well.. so other than the parents (assuming the dad is cleared) can touch them there. IF anyone does try to, or asks them to do something to those parts, they should immediately shout/scream/draw attention and refuse to be around that person and then, let mom/dad know what has happened (when she meets them).
**Parents should not appear to be too friendly or trusting of drivers/servants etc, especially in front of the kids, as they will think that those people are "good friends" with mom/dad, so they are trustworthy and whatever they do is fine.
**Do not leave your kid anywhere if there is no woman in the house...Even if they are your best friends...NO...Unless you are sure that the lady of the house, is going to be near your kid, do not take chances.
**In some Indian families, especially for the boy kids, the private organ is treated like a toy and referred to with different names and made fun of and what I find most disgusting is the parents asking the kids to point it out like "where are your eyes, where are your ears".. I really find it sick, i don't know if I am overreacting but I cant really tolerate it.
**Whenever traveling by public transport, make sure the kid wears pants or capris and not skirts or frocks (girl child)... .because children keep jumping here and there..and u never know who keeps watching your kids!
Since kids that small do not know the difference between good touch and bad touch, they need to be cautioned against everyone and everything... later on when they are old enough, they will figure it out as to what is what... do not raise them with panic or in panic, just keep it subtle but drill it strong in their tiny minds.
One very very vital thing is to keep the communication channel open between the kids and you... They should not be scared to open up with you...
Talk..talk and talk a lot with ur kid everyday. LISTEN.
Teach your kids to say NO...lot of times when kids don't like a particular person,.we force or kids to be polite or give a hug or kiss to someone..if in general your child is well mannered and is saying no to certain person or place.....pay attention!!
Stop scolding your kid for no reason or maybe even for a reason. Always be pleasant and loving to her/him. Its easy to scold but remember life goes on. Your kid gradually may lose trust and belief on you when it comes to disclosing sensitive issues
Most of our kids would come back from school complaining about a fight with his/her classmate . Now what is your reaction when you hear this???
Think for a minute before u read the next line...
Obviously, 60-80% of the parents first question is ..What did you do ???
What goes through internally in a child's mind is : Oh ! My dad/mom is going to start scolding me and I am going to get it for nothing. It is better I do not tell about these fights hereafter.
Now apply the same thing to the context of this topic. Its hard still the truth that it would be ur neighbor or even your close relative who would try to misbehave with your child. When this happens you think the kid would have the courage to disclose it to you...
You, unknowingly have already developed an insecurity in her/him by asking the first tough question..
What did you do ???
Would your kid have an answer for what did you do in this case? NO... So she/he would obviously refrain from disclosing this incident to u
Always be proud that Nature/God/Supernaural Power/Science/Love has given you a great gift and that is your child
Never ever scold them at a tender age because they seriously are not doing anything wantedly. They Just honestly don't know. If they knew, I am sure they would have a say in this debate and only we adults would not be the ones breaking our heads on it (Thanks for this exercise Prashanth.. I totally agree with it!!!)
This made me realize that developing an open and trusting relationship with a kid is very vital in parenting.
However, as adults we need to show some discretion and go with our instincts rather than totally rely on the kid... it is really tricky, a thin line between truth, misunderstanding and a lie, the kids are not aware of it, as a parent we need to be able to delineate what is what.
1. Do not overreact if the kid at any point of time says that so and so uncle touched me here..touched me there...
2. Do not discuss about this in front of the kid with your spouse.
3. Do not try to abuse the guy who did it, in front of the kid. If it is a girl kid, she may start developing an aversion towards the entire men community..which will hamper her development.
4. Of all things, Don't try to justify what the guy did or try to prove that the kid got it wrong. Don't ask the kid too many questions like..Are you sure..uncle did that you? Just use your discretion and keep an eye.
5. Never ever directly point out a person's name and ask if he/she misbehaved with her.. just listen.
When the kids can speak and go to school, pre-school
1. Instead of just teaching about good touch and bad touch. You need to teach about owning the body and a child’s right over their body.
2. Teach your children about their private parts.
3. First you need teach them the correct name( it is recommended because in case anything happens. The child can use the proper words to explain the things to the justice system).
4. Next, teach them their body private parts belong to them and no one can touch it.
5. Not even dad, mom (except when giving bath), not even next door neighbor, not any relative, not your sibling, not your cousins. (Because most molesters are some one close to the child)
6. Next teach them that they can touch their body parts, and there is an appropriate and inappropriate place to do that. This helps them to look at their body at not something that is dirty so no one can touch it.
7. Give them reason that their body is special and it belongs to only them, so only they can touch it and no one can touch it.
8. If someone touches it, teach the children to say “no it is mine. You cannot touch it”. Then come and tell it to mom or dad.
9. Ask them questions like who can touch it and who cannot touch it.
Like can your teacher touch it
Can your bus driver touch it.
When can mom and dad touch it. can they touch it other times.
After all this also, don’t except your children to come and tell you if something happens, because most of them don’t. So always looks out for signs and keep and eye on everything.
If something happens and you come to know. Get help don’t try to deal with your children yourself. You are not equipped with the proper knowledge to help the child no matter how good your intentions are.Inputs From Internet
Tips To Keep Children Safe from Sexual Abuse By Jill Starishevsky on Oct 25, 2009.
Keeping your children safe from child predators sounds like a scary proposition, but it doesn’t have to be. We used to teach children about “stranger danger”, but studies have shown that most sexual abuse occurs at the hands of someone known to the child. He might seem like the friendliest teacher, neighbor, uncle or coach. Unfortunately, this person, who is always showing an interest in your child and working to develop trust, can sometimes be a child predator. It is difficult for adults to recognize these people for who they really are, and of course, it is even more difficult for children. Just as we teach children about the dangers associated with crossing the street or going near a hot oven, we must talk to them about recognizing and avoiding threatening encounters with child predators. I have a short list of "tips" that have helped me talk to my children about safety. Here are some suggestions:
1. No secrets. Period.
2. Don’t dress children in clothing or accessories with their name on it.
3. Teach your child the correct terms for their body parts.
4. Practice “what if” scenarios.
5. Teach your child their name, address and phone number at an early age.
6. Prepare a child with what to do if they get lost.
7. Internet Safety:
8. Let children decide for themselves how they want to express affection.
9. Teach your child that adults do not need to ask children for help.
10. Teach children the buddy system.
The link to the full article is as HERE. (Thanks a lot Uma for this link).
If It Does Happen... What next????
If your child comes and reports about such a thing happened to her ..say a close relative or say a good friend does that to your child, what to do next?? Of course, we will never leave the child ever near him/her. But what would we do with that person. I mean, what is the next action, because popular or rather very obvious response would be not to report it to police, for fear of protecting the child..but what needs to be done???
From a parent point of view
As for me, molesting a child is a statutory rape. Anything other than reporting to police and taking legal action to prosecute is protecting a criminal who has done harm to your little one scarring them for life. Even if it is your brother or a very close relative or your spouse it should not matter. Though it is difficult decision this is something where you show your priorities. I think what people don't realize the serious criminality of this and because because people don't really come out in open, events kept under wraps and hushed up, we give them a chance to go free.. we protect our own kid and for the fear of society or whatever, leave a criminal at large to play with other kids' lives.
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Finally but most importantly...
In the end, I would like to say let us teach or kids to be independent and beware of what is happening around them....let us empower them to deal with world outside but NOT scare them and fill their minds with ideas that EVERYONE is bad out there.
After putting up all at one place, I do not really think that being scared or being paranoid and passing it to the kids is going to help in any way. I do not think to be so much worried. all we need is the awareness and to be cautious. No need to overdo it, just go along with ur instincts which is very important. If one has the feeling that something/someone is not safe or may not be safe for the kid, just go with the instincts and be cautious from your end, let the kids have their share of fun the way we had in our childhood. The core point is not to tie them with chains of fear and anxiety, in stead let us make them aware and set them free and how do we go about it is the whole point?!!!
PS: The points listed here are not just my own thoughts but gathered from various discussions in forums, especially Indian Parenting in Orkut which made me think and retain for referral. I thank each and every one for their inputs and would like to see a bit more on this..
I would love to see Art, Tharini, ITW, Kiran, MM, Gauri, Rads, Ushaji, do a post on this and see their viewpoint.