Childhood should be carefree playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul.

Tuesday, 16 May

As the media in recent time continuously bringing up the instances of child sexual abuse (CSA) one might think that there is an unexpected spurt in an unnatural way of behaving or that it is a terrifying new trend. Though it is worrying, that is not so. Contrasting today, earlier there was, for one thing, no news or social media, conventional at best, didn’t reside too much on these topics. Also unlike formerly instead of trying to look into such incidents or skimming it under the carpet of loss of reputation and fear or embarrassment, people have openly talked about the issue which with regards to all things is the best thing.

According to the World Health Organization, ‘CSA is a participation of children in sexual activity that they do not fully understand, are unable to give informed assent to, or for which the children are not at all prepared, or else that infringe the social taboos or laws of society. Children can be sexually abused by the adults or any other children- who are on the grounds of their age or developmental stage, in a position of authority, trust, or ability over the victim.’

In simple words, hence, any unexpected action with sexual association with or without contact, kissing, touching or even verbal implication, with respect to a child’s body by a grown person, is CSA-Bad touch.
But considering what has been said, CSA is actually a disturbing reality. And now that it’s out of the covert as it were, however, there is no need to panic, we need to handle it in the right way. Taking a little extra caution and care, we can surely prevent such circumstances from occurring and keep our kids safe.

It has become extremely important now to empower our young ones cautiously with the same understanding so that they can keep themselves safe if ever the need arises. After all it is quite difficult to be with your kid 24*7. Thus the role of the parents in creating an environment that not only considers the overall growth of the kids but also kid’s personal safety is important and can’t be exaggerated.

But how to do that? Below are a few parenting tips that can help you to get started.

1) Rules For Safety : Create a set of rules for safety that you can apply for your child with respect to various situations. Like we tell them to look right and left before crossing the road or not to play with the poisonous stuff or knives? In the same way, without panicking them, constantly tell them to avoid talking to or going with strangers and never allow anybody to hug/touch them unnecessarily. Have a discussion with other teachers, parents, and counselors who can help you in framing a set of such rules. Add them in the rules of safety at different phases of your kid’s social development.

2) Good And Bad Touch : Start studying about this topic and have a discussion with the experts to get a better understanding of it, before beginning to talk about it with your kid. By describing it in the simple terms you instill protective measures in your kids. Discuss the body with you kid, label the various parts and advise them who must be allowed to touch or where not to touch. This is all about keeping your child safe and secure. This is more effective as it will include the entire family in the discussion. And when the counselors and teachers take it up, the kids will accept it more willingly or vice versa. Just like you might have noticed your children often saying, ‘today my teacher said…’.

3) Be Watchful : We must be aware of who our kids are socializing with. Most of the kids under 5 are not aware of a bad and a good touch, but you are. The time you notice something wrong, warn or take your kid away.

Do not leave your children alone, even if they are 9-10 year-olds, with anyone who;

  • Brings costly gifts for the kid without any reason
  • Tries to frequently spend time with the kid in your absence
  • Wants to regularly play games with the kid, like hide n seek
  • Likes to spend a needlessly long time with the kid
  • The child seems anxious/afraid/nervous while meeting the person
  • Is eager on physical affection especially if the kid seems uncomfortable
  • You yourself don’t feel comfortable around them

It’s better to make a mistake on the side of caution.

4) Be Aware Of The Perpetrators : Be cautious about not just a stranger near you but the overly affectionate and adoring cousin, uncle, domestic-help, neighbor or even another older child. According to the statistics, children always knew and believe their assassins. It can take place in your own house among people who are close to you and your kid. Nearly every abuser comes across as a well-behaved, gentle and an affectionate person. They are not always misfits, social outcasts or abusive strangers.

5) Be Cautious Everywhere : Keep in mind that no place is actually safe. Child abuse can happen at school or at even at a friend’s house, so proper observation is a must. So you need to

  • Be aware where your kids are always
  • Set rules as to where they can or can’t go
  • Tell them who they should or shouldn’t speak to
  • Advise them what to do if there is a change of plans

6) Open Communication : Always take the time to talk or listen to your kid. Unrestrained communication between parent and a child is extremely necessary. Your kids, whether a boy or a girl must feel that they can tell you about everything and anything, anytime.

7) Communicate With Your Child : Good parenting is all about knowing your child’s likes and dislikes, their anxieties and fears, and how they react to circumstances. The relationship of parents with their children is built on love, mutual trust and confidence. So it is important to grow their self-esteem and self-confidence under parental guidance.

8) Safe Circle : Make a ‘safe circle’ for your kids which contains a set of 4-5 people who you trust your kids with. These can be aunts, grandparents etc. who the kids can approach for guidance or help when you are not near them. Inform these adults regarding this safe circle and their roles and responsibilities as a part of the kid’s safe circle. The kids must also know about their members of the safe circle and must feel comfortable with them.

9) Contact Details : Always provide your children with your name, phone number, and address when they are out. Also, provide an alternative contact that children or somebody else can make a call in case of any problem anytime. Pin it on the children’s dress or inside their pocket. Other keeping the children safe, it builds their self-confidence.

10) Child Safety Measures : Keep yourself updated with the latest parenting and prevention tips through books, teachers, and the internet. You also need to observe your kid’s online activities. For example, unknown social media friends must be discouraged

11) Corporate Daycares : Enrol your child to a daycare or day boarding near your workplace, at least for first 10 years. By doing this you can keep an eye on your child anytime, even if you are a working parent.

So a little precaution with some preventive measures in this regard are all that is required to save your child.

Benedicta D’costa

Benedicta D’costa is an avid blogger of the leading child care organization, Early Birds-The Corporate Day Care with a rich experience of handling young children and engaging with them. Benedicta writes frequently about the “child welfare and development” and the real-life challenges faced at the workplaces: from the stress of being working parents to pressure of increasing productivity for an employer, and everything in between.
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"A mother’s joy begins when new life is stirring inside, when a tiny heartbeat is heard for the very first time, and a playful kick reminds her that she is never alone"