No love is greater than the love of a parent for their child, and once their baby leaves their cocoon, it is the child’s tiny shoulders that have to carry the burden of protecting themselves from the menace that lurks behind every smile.
For a very long time, TALKING about “sexual abuse” has been deemed a taboo in our society, even though, in this modern day and age, the social stigma attached to such monstrosity almost seems quizzical, because it’s NOT AGAINST DOING IT. Ironic! Regrettably, the emphasis is laid on what people will think or that we are uncomfortable talking about it ourselves. Instead we should focus on the “child” who will have to live with the indescribable pain and suffering of being abused – an unfortunate experience that is going to shape their life.
We live in a society with predators amongst us, in the form of close relatives or sometimes, friends. There is no one behavior that can be taken as evidence for sexual abuse; but it is the pattern that should cause serious concern. Abuse can start even at a tender age of three years, and now that we are aware of it, we need to change our mind set and take immediate steps to protect our children from any potential harm. Start the conversation now, and don’t wait another day. By talking to our children, we are not only performing a key social responsibility, but we are also developing the feeling of “self-awareness” in them.
BECOME EDUCATED ON SEXUAL ABUSE
Get the facts, know them, learn them, repeat them, do whatever it takes to get familiar with them. Awareness begins at home.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN APPROPRIATE AND INAPPROPRIATE
Tell your child the difference between what is good and what is bad, what is a safe touch is and what is a bad touch, and most importantly, what is abuse.
TALK ABOUT THEIR BODY
Tell your child that nobody is allowed to see or touch their body or private body parts, except their parents, and that also while bathing them or helping them change their clothes. A predator will always coax a child into doing something to themselves or others by bribing or threatening them. So nobody is allowed to touch or see their private body parts.
TEACH THEM WHEN TO SAY NO!
Teach your child when to say no to anything that they feel is wrong. Often we tell our children to say yes to everything and do as they are told, so this might create confusion. But make it clear, your child can say no to an inappropriate touch, i.e if they are being touched in the wrong place.
THERE ARE NO SECRETS WITH STRANGERS
Become best friends with your children and tell them that they are the only ones with whom they can keep all kinds of secrets. Tell them what bad secrets and good secrets are, and if they are asked to keep a secret from you then that is a bad secret and its ok to break it.
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO TALK
Keep an open relationship with your child and encourage them to talk about everything that goes on with them or amongst their friends.
LISTEN AND DON’T JUDGE
Children want to be heard and when they feel that their voice will go unheard or fear rejection of some kind, they will refrain from talking. So make sure to listen to your child if they are complaining about a relative or a neighbor’s behavior towards them.
DON’T FORCE YOUR CHILD
Children can display signs that all is not well. So don’t force your child into doing something that they are not comfortable with it. Like sitting in a relatives lap, or forcefully hugging or kissing someone, or going out alone with a relative etc.
DON’T TRUST ANYONE
Predators don’t wear masks, or look scary; they are normal people who shield their horror behind a veil of trust. So don’t entrust your child’s safety with anyone or leave your child to be monitored even for a while.
RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS
If you see or feel anything unusual with your child, stop and focus at the behavioral and physical signs of change in them. And let them know that you are there to help and protect them at all costs.
If you see or feel a child is being abused, report it. Save someone who is not capable of saving themselves.
There is no guarantee that these discussions will absolutely prevent sexual abuse, but just know that children are at a greater risk without knowing all of this. So have these talks often because your child’s innocence and ignorance in this area might put them in harm’s way. Find time to reiterate these messages during bed time or one-on-one time, but speak up now!