How to talk to your child about sexual abuse

Abduction and sexual victimisation are the urban realities of the Capital, which constantly haunt every parent. Frightened, cautious parents are pulling in all help they can garner to ensure that children stay safe in the city.

What is Child Sexual Abuse?

“Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is pressurised, forced or tricked into taking part in any kind of sexual activity with an adult or young person”. CSA can involve many activities including:

  • » Fondling/touching/kissing of genitals and other areas
    of the body
  • » Penetration with penis, digit or object
  • » Exposing genitals or sexual material to child
  • » Talking to a child inappropriately, graphically and
    explicitly about sex
  • » Asking a child to touch their own genitals or
    another persons
  • » Non-forced sex with an underage child

What can we reinforce?

Children must be taught that if something is happening that makes them feel uncomfortable, they must tell somebody they trust.

Help children realise that they have the right to say ‘no’ to those who would abuse their authority as adults. We must make children aware that their safety is more important than good manners.

Teach children in an open way from very young about correct biological names of body parts so that they don’t feel embarrassed talking about it and in an abusive situation the child understands what is happening.

Safety tips

  • 1. Tell your child their address and phone number
  • 2. If you go somewhere, where you become separated from your child, have a ‘meet place’
  • 3. Make sure they know how to dial the emergency services and what to say
  • 4. Make sure they also have the number of another trusted adult written down somewhere
  • 5. Buy them a travel card (if old enough) and a phone card for emergencies
  • 6. Teach your child the buddy system – i.e. walk in pairs or groups

Talk to them about:

  • 1. Good touch is touch that feels safe – or touch that makes us feel warm and makes us smile
  • 2. Bad touch hurts their body or feelings

What is bad touch?

A sexual abuse touch is something that makes the child feel scared, anxious or uncertain. It is a touch on any part of their body that would normally be covered if they wore a swimming costume. Explain to them that this touch may feel “nice” or exciting, but that it may also feel strange. If they are asked not to tell anyone about this touch then that is sexual abuse touch. Make it clear that sexual abuse touch can also happen with their clothes on.

As a parent watch out for adults who:

  • 1. Refuse children privacy or invade their privacy
  • 2. Insist on physical affection even when the child looks uncomfortable
  • 3. Insist on a ‘special time’ alone from other adults and children
  • 4. Spend a lot of time with children instead of adults
  • 5. Buy children expensive gifts for no apparent reason
  • 6. Appear to put a lot of effort into getting close to children
  • 7. Have had previous allegations against them before
  • 8. Make you feel uneasy…even if you cant put your finger on why
  • 9. Your child or other children seem afraid of a person
  • 10. Your child or other children do not want to be alone with the person

Different approaches to child safety

  • Mother: Gunjan Amrit Nam Kaur
  • Father: Jattinn Kochhar

Gunjan is a Delhigirl. Eight yearsago before having her second child, a thought raced through her head. “I told my family that if this was a girl child, I would not bring her up. I had seen and experienced too much, and as a mother I wanted to shield my daughter.” Gunjan, however, is bringing up two beautiful and confident children who were encouraged early on ‘how to tackle the city while staying safe’. “I understood that you cannot live in fear,” she says. “I empowered my children. My husband and I spoke to them about safety and their rights to say yes or no. We are in constant dialogue about everything,” she says.

“We don’t want them to have fearful lives.....we encourage them to speak, live, and experience while being safe. The basic rules about safety apply and the fact that Jattinn is a well-known designer, hasn’t prevented them from enjoying life. We keep them real,” she says. “Of course what helps is we live in a joint family,” pitches in Jattinn. “There is always someone with the children. And in case we both are out, my parents are very hands-on with the children,” he explains.

  • Mother: Dalvinder Kaur
  • Father: Gulab Singh

Dalvinder Kaur says, “Safety, safety, safety....that is my concern 24x7 for my six-year-old daughter,” as she rushes through her morning chores so that she makes herself available for her child when she comes back from school by early afternoon.“There is homework, skating classes, dinner, and of course the evening bath and mandatory tucking into the bed. I do it all. No maid or help is entrusted with any child-related work,” she says. Nowhere does Dalvinder afford herself a break or a minute to catch her breath. “I have been on this mother wheel for 52,560 hours now,” she laughs, and adds, “I can’t remember the last time I went to watch a movie alone in a theatre.”

She says, “I can’t trust anyone with my child. I have even taken her along for client meetings. My mother and husband are the only ones who I am confident and comfortable with when it comes to handling the routine and needs of my child.” She says she is no exception. “All mothers do it. Delhi today is that unsafe. And yes, the gender doesn’t matter anymore. For the perpetrator of crime, it’s just a question of opportunity and confidence that he/she can get away with it. So we need to be vigilant always.”

  • Mother: Rekha
  • Father: Sunil

Ma is coming home to visit her devotees. But this very special celestial guest has brought for Rekha a set of problems. “I have put my children under virtual house arrest,” she says. Rekha works from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., taking a break during the afternoon for a couple of hours to be with her school going children. Speaking about her latest worry, Rekha explains, “The pandal which has been put up in the playground for children exposes them to migrant population. They are at an increased risk of molestation, and physical and sexual abuse.

“When children from the middle or upper middle class come to the playground they are under the constant supervision of maids or someone from home. Our children don’t have that safety net. Recently a four-year-old child was lured and raped while she was playing near her house. So when the children were not safe a few feet away from their home, wouldn’t the parents worry?” she says. Rekha and her husband take turns to be with their children. “We ensure that they are with either of us constantly. Even though my husband’s two brothers live with us, we make sure that the time they spend with them alone is as little as possible. Going to the neighbours’ house alone is a strict no” says Rekha.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 8:25:41 PM |

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