Good Touch, Bad Touch

Posted by Kiran Manral

It is an uncomfortable talk to have, but one that is very necessary, one that should probably begin, in an age appropriate manner, when your child is able to talk and communicate. The statistics on Child Sexual Abuse are alarming, I know, I am part of a group that runs a month long awareness initiative on CSA across social media and we have official statistics that place the rate at 53% in India from a 2007 study. One in two children in India are the victims of some degree of CSA.

The worry though, for most parents would be as to how to empower a child without affecting a child’s innocence. I have a simple answer, think of it as simply a safety rule you teach your child. You wouldn’t let your child touch electrical points, sharp objects, cross a road without learning road safety rules, or without being accompanied by an adult would you? Similarly, teaching a child about good touch bad touch is part of the safety manual every child needs to be equipped with.

To start with, drop the nicknames for the private parts and teach them the biological terms so they are able to communicate clearly in the event of some inappropriate touching. Secondly, empower your kids to let them know that their body is their own–this means not insisting they hug and kiss anyone they don’t want to, at the risk of offending some doting relatives, giving them the privacy to change/bathe behind closed doors with no adult around. Teach your kids that they are completely allowed to say no if they are uncomfortable or don’t like someone touching them, hugging them, kissing them and they must tell the person to stop and come tell you as a parent about it.
Younger children can also understand the concept of good touch bad touch–teach them to be in tune with their feelings, any touch that makes them feel instinctively uncomfortable is something they should get away from. And finally, do teach them the golden three–”Stop. No. I will tell.” This could deter most predators who are wary of being found out. Keep your tone matter of fact and light, work these conversations into every day routines, perhaps while bathing your child, tell them to point out which parts no one is allowed to touch.

Our schools don’t teach our kids safety, we do as parents. There is no reason why we should ignore such a vital aspect of personal safety for a child, given the growing incidents of CSA that are getting reported every single day. It is our job, as parents, not just to nourish our children with good food, to develop their minds, but also to talk to them about difficult topics in a way that does not terrify them but empowers them. A quote from a research study done on pedophiles always sends a chill up my spine.”Give me a child who knows nothing about sex or good touch/bad touch and you’ve given me my next victim.”

Have you spoken with your child about good touch/bad touch yet?


22 Responses to “Good Touch, Bad Touch”

  1. Dotmom says:

    I absolutely love the idea of teaching it to them as a safety issue. As you say its a vital aspect of being a responsible parent. Thanks for posting this Kiran. We need more awareness on this issue.

  2. dipali says:

    It is absolutely vital to incorporate this safety knowledge into each child’s thinking. And as the author points out, it can be, and should be done in an almost innocuous, every day kind of way! The saddest part is that the effects of a child being abused do not end with the end of the abuse, or with the child growing up- it complicates and permeates so many aspects of their lives. Such a needless and tragic waste in our children’s lives.

  3. Harshula says:

    I agree it is important that if we want our childrens life to flourish, we need to teach them to have control over their life. We cannot be hovering over them through out. they are bound to meet people who might try and take advantage. As parents we should empower them to be able to take care of themselves.
    Child abuse is a reflection of our society. Todays children will be responsible citizens of tomorrow. It is our duty as parebts to inculcate good moral values in our child (be it a boy or a girl).

    • Kiran Manral says:

      Thank you Harshula, absolutely agree, as parents our duty is to empower our children to stay safe as well as to bring them up with the proper values so they grow up to be valued members of society and responsible citizens.

  4. Aakansha says:

    It is extremely necessary to forewarn children against sexual abuse. It is shocking how even teenagers today are unaware of such practices and completely oblivious to concepts like good touch and bad touch. Most of my friends travel by public transport and it becomes doubly important for us to be aware of such things. Most parents are hesitant to talk to their kids about sexual abuse.I think they should stop treating sex education like a taboo and talk about it more openly with their children.

    • Kiran Manral says:

      Thank you Aakansha, all parents need to put aside their inherent hesitation and talk about this. It can only empower a child to stay safe, to know his or her personal boundaries, and resist abuse.–Kiran

  5. Kiran Manral says:

    Thank you so much for your response Dipali. All we need as parents, is to be more aware and have that talk with our kids.

  6. Baisali says:

    How beautifully and simply you’ve explained it, Kiran…make it a safety issue, like crossing the road. Excellent.

    I know many of us worry and stress over calling the private parts by their actual names, and admittedly the first two-three times I did, my voice quivered, but I remained calm and powered through. Now, it feels normal whenever I need to use the actual words.

    • Kiran Manral says:

      Good to hear that Baisali, we just need to think of it as empowering our kids. Unless we give them the exact vocabulary to state things, how will they be able to communicate to us if anything, god forbid, does happen with them. –Kiran

  7. Wow, uve tackled this topic so well Kiran! I remember an incident as a kid, where i could not express how a trusted ‘uncle’ touched me inappropriately – and in that moment of confrontation, when fear gripped me… i remember someone telling me “did you like it or what?? then why arent u telling us what happened?” I wanted to go back into my shell, but realized that this wouldnt end unless i spoke up!

    Its how the family tackles the issue – make the child feel comfortable to talk about it!

    Thanks, for making it easier for parents to understand this! :)

  8. very well and succinctly explained Kiran. With the changing times, our safety manual for kids need to be constantly updated and added to. Stranger-danger and ‘good touch-bad touch’ are vital. Right from the age of 2, kids today have to deal with strangers-a very frightening thought. Only proper, honest explanation will help the kid realize what’s wrong and not feel guilty or scared.

  9. Madhulika says:

    I have been postponing this chat with my boys but this makes it easier. Make it about safety issue. Teach them about boundaries so they know when those boundaries are violated. Phew! Thanks.

  10. Rohini says:

    Well said. If there are still parents out there who put ‘preserving their kids’ innocence’ above arming them against predators, they need to be shaken.

  11. shobha says:

    As parents, I think allowing the child the freedom to say no is a huge step in the right direction. Especially, in social situations where a hug or a kiss may be expected/demanded. Often times, even as adults, it is so easy to succumb to the noise and stop thinking for oneself. This is where we actually become about the change, as opposed to merely talking about. Thank you, Kiran, for writing.

  12. Kiran Manral says:

    Thanks for commenting spunkyfunkyme–am so sorry to hear that you had to face such an insensitive comment when you tried to tell your family about this. That’s what makes most children clam up and not disclose-encouraging the abuser to continue. Hopefully, as parents we will be more sensitive and non judgemental when our children come to us with any such issues.

  13. Kiran Manral says:

    Thank you Anindita, and you are doing a very important task yourself, talking about the dangers of predators on the internet and the need for parents to watch over their kids activities online.

  14. Kiran Manral says:

    Don’t postpone it, Madhulika. It is uncomfortable but have that talk. It simply is empowering your children to know that they have the right over their own bodies.

  15. Kiran Manral says:

    Thanks Rohini, there are so many out there who still refuse to discuss even basic body parts with their children-they don’t understand how vulnerable to abuse not having the talk makes the child.

  16. Kiran Manral says:

    Am glad you agree Shobha, letting the child know he or she has autonomy over his actions and his body might make disciplining a tad more difficult for us as parents but it does empower a child to stand up against something he or she is not comfortable with.

  17. Thanks Kiran, I know! theres so much to do in parenting – i hope i can keep up with all of this when i finally become one! :)

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