“Sexual Abuse”, term that we have been hearing and ignoring from past few decades by holding a typical image about it. As parents, we find it difficult to talk about it with our children and ignore its high prevalence in our country. As per the latest data, in India, every second girl child and every third boy child has been “sexually abused”. Here are few things that parents can do to prevent sexual abuse and give sex education to their children.
Talk to your kids. This sounds obvious and silly, but many parents actually don’t spend all that much time each day talking to their children. It takes patience, and time. It takes building a culture within your family of daily sharing and listening. It’s very worth the effort; not only will it make you closer as a family, but it will make it easier and more natural for your children to tell you about anything that happens to them.
Teach your child about body parts. Do it in the bathtub or at other natural times of nakedness. Teach them the actual names; it will help if a child ever needs to explain anything. Make sure they know which parts are their private parts, which nobody should look at or touch except the people you say are okay.
Talk about good and bad touches. This is an obvious offshoot of talking about private parts, but bad touches don’t necessarily involve touching breasts or genitals. A bad touch is any touch that makes a child feel uncomfortable–and those are the instincts you want to teach your child.
Teach them that no grownup should ask them to keep a secret. So much of abuse and sexual predation begins with secrets, and as with touches, they aren’t always sexual. So teach your child that grownups shouldn’t be asking children to keep secrets.
We understand that these are really hard conversations to have. Don’t do it all at once–do it in bits and pieces as moments come up. And do it with hugs and reassurances that you and all the trusted grownups around them are always working to keep them safe. The idea should be to empower your children, not scare them.
Be watchful, and trust your instincts. Pay attention to changes in behavior or offhand comments or things that happen that seem odd, and ask questions. If something doesn’t seem right to you, don’t ignore it.
If you do these things starting when your child is small, and work to maintain ongoing conversations and support when they go through adolescence, you will go a long way toward keeping your child safe.