Ways that can help protect a child from sexual abuse

Wednesday 14 September 2016
Considering that child sexual abuse often happens not at the hands of strangers, but more often than not by people known to the child, it is essential for the parents to address it appropriately. Instead of merely sheltering one’s children, it is important to also empower them to fight back. This needs to be done without scaring them about social contact. Therefore, the tips below ensure that you are a part of your child’s safety, through counselling and actively participating in their social life.

Be involved in your child’s life
Your child’s health, choices and his beliefs today will define the person he becomes tomorrow. The influences that he comes under will also define his future. Therefore, you must show interest in his day to day life, the people he meets, his schedule, and his friends. Authority figures also play a key role in giving him a safe, healthy and happy childhood, so you must know his school and tuition teachers, and caregivers (including doctors and babysitters). Considering how sexual abuse is often initiated by caregivers, you must actively choose them carefully. Look for professional recommendations and references.
 
Spread awareness among children
The concept of ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ is a simple way of introducing children to subtle or obvious sexual harassment. It can sensitise them about how to also report instances where they felt confused about the kind of physical contact someone is making with them. Good touch makes them feel safe, warm and cared for, whereas bad touch hurts them – including violence. They must be taught that their body belongs to them, and they can speak up if they are being touched in an unwanted way. Bodily autonomy also comes from being vocal with one’s family and relatives – if they don’t feel like hugging or kissing someone affectionately, don’t force them to. And if you want to go a step ahead, you can also support an NGO which seeks to drive awareness of issues like child sexual abuse.
 
Encourage children to speak up
Children need to know that you are always there for them as a willing and patient listener. Sexual harassment is often suppressed when children are accused of lying when they report harassment. Further, they even face violence when they identify their harassers. Sexual abuse often uses coercion, not force, and a strong “NO” can fight that instantly – and you must teach them that they will not be punished for it. They have the right and the freedom to say no to anyone who seeks to touch them inappropriately.
 
Be available for them
Be patient and all ears when they speak up. Your availability shows that you want to help them. Instantly of seeking to instantly “fix” something, you may have to counsel them and take action in cases of child sexual abuse, no matter how minor. At the same time, don’t interrogate them to reveal every single detail. Instead, understand that they may take the time to put their thoughts and speak up carefully. They may need a trained healthcare professional to clearly reveal any incident of abuse. Yet, your ability to listen, provide them empathy and support are essential.
 
Conclusion
Child sexual harassment is a crime that spans geographies, caste, religion, nationalities, race and even the ties of family. The heinous crime, therefore, requires a strong and clear understand the approach that makes a child capable of resolving issues. As he/she steps into adulthood, he will understand sexuality much clearly, but your advice today gives him/her a strong foundation to prevent abuse. You also must donate to charity to protect other children from child sexual abuse.

 [a1]Clear what?