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?