Child Sexual Abuse is a truth staring at our faces but most of us refuse to accept its presence! Or even worse we know it exists but we believe it happens to other people not to someone like us.
Ask females around (I say female because it is more prevalent amongst this gender and not because males have not faced it) and they will admit having seen, heard or experienced some form of abuse – the deliberate brushing against you while passing by in a not-so-crowded bus, the lecherous glare from the holier-than-a-saint neighbourhood uncle, the sexual innuendos and flying kisses by the sadak chaap romeos. There is no age limit for all of this to happen but childhood is when we are the most vulnerable.
Sometimes I shudder when I think of things that could happen to a child. As a parent I want to be able to protect my child from any such form of abuse. Some of the precautions a parent can take are –
- Never leave a child alone in the presence of strangers. If you really need to (for example, you are travelling with your child minus spouse and you need to head to the loo) make sure there are lots of people around. And when you tell someone to watch your child make that announcement loud and clear so that others around are also aware.
- In large family gatherings, don’t trust all your relatives blindly (yes relatives are human too!). If the kid wants to play with an uncle, aunty, bhaiya, didi, make sure you have them within sight. Doesn’t mean you need to be paranoid but better safe than sorry.
- Teach your kid about ok-touch and not-ok-touch. Use your instinct about what is the right age for your child to learn that. Somewhere between 3 to 4 years is a good time, before that it might be confusing for a little one.
- Sleepovers are a lot of fun! But don’t agree for a sleepover at all friends’ places. They should be done only when you are a 110% sure of your child’s safety. It’s good to ask the child about they did at the night out.
- Use your sixth sense, gut feel or mommy radar. When your kid doesn’t want go/stay alone with someone, prod, probe and investigate to find out the true reason.
- Ask the child about the day’s activities and people he or she encounters daily. The bus/van driver, school maid/help, teacher, security guard, neighbour – simple open-ended questions can help a child describe the days activities.
- Kids have their own radar of good and bad. If they don’t want to hug, kiss or shake hands with someone; don’t force them to.
- Look out for any physical signs of abuse – especially if you have house helps, maids or other people staying with you.
- Discuss your child’s safety with respect to sexual abuse with grandparents if they stay with you or you are visiting them for a longer duration. The more people watching out for these little ones the better.
Last but not the least – “Give them hope, give them praise. Give them love everyday. Let them cry, let them giggle. Let them sleep in the middle!” [lines from a latest favourite song of mine]. Keep those treasures of your life safe!! 🙂
The CSAAM April 2011 is an effort by a group of bloggers, both parents and non parents, to bring this topic to the fore, to generate discussion and awareness and remove the shroud of silence that covers it. If you would also like to participate in this campaign, go here to see the guidelines.