Today, sexual harassment of children is at its peak and the issue is hardly discussed which is evident from the fact that there was no law against this till 2012. According to a report of the Ministry of Women and Child Development in India, around 53% of children in India are sexually abused. The main reason behind this huge number is that the awareness is less in families and plus the culprit is usually a family member or someone who is trusted.
We need to discuss this issue with our children in an open and a frank manner so that they can protect themselves or speak with you about it if ever they fall prey to it. Here are some ways with which you can make your child understand.
1. Make your child understand the importance of private parts. Tell them that they have complete ownership over their bodies and that they should not allow anyone to touch parts that are covered. Take an example of swimsuit or a doll, so that they can grasp the fact that you are trying to make them understand. Ask them not to allow anyone to touch those areas. Add the fact that their cheeks and lips are private parts too.
2. Always use the actual name for the body parts instead of being ashamed. Talk about these issues openly. Keep the conversation practical, light and easy. In this way, they would feel comfortable to talk about anything unfortunate happens with them.
3. Make them understand that it is okay for them to say “NO” in case if they don’t like being touched, even if it is someone from the family. It is okay even the touch is an affectionate one from a close family member.
4. Do not force affection on your child. It is okay if the family member is someone really safe and their hug is actually affectionate, but forced affection will lead your child to hesitate in further speaking with you. You could lose trust.
5. Allow them to have a trust over their feelings. Tell them to trust their senses if ever they get negative vibes after being touched by someone. Kids should be taught to trust their feelings.
6. Tell them not to let anyone touch them if it is in return of some gift or chocolate. Ask them not to go to an isolated area either with strangers or even with any family members.
7. Charity starts from home itself. Never yourself touch or see your child’s private parts. Ask him/her to change in private and not in front of anyone, not even you. This way, they would understand and have control over their privacy.
8. Teach your children that they should not blame themselves if anyone harasses them. Tell them that you will always trust and love them and that you will take an action against the culprit. Take help of a therapist if a child is still not comfortable or is in trauma.