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A Parent’s Guide To Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

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By Mriganka:

Every second child in India is a victim of sexual abuse, and this is not just a figure of speech. Official statistics* state that more than 53% children in India are exposed to some form of sexual abuse and most of them never report it to a parent or a guardian. Yet, we as a nation remain surprisingly tight-lipped over the subject.

child molestation

A comment from a fellow activist prompted me to write this blog. She observed that our “sanskars” prevent Indian parents from having an open dialogue with their children. Blasphemous as it may sound, the biggest reason an abuser takes advantage of a child is because his/her parents failed to abuse-proof the child. Which leads to the obvious question — Can we raise abuse-proof, empowered children?

The answer is a resounding YES!

The solution is simpler than you imagine — Educate, Communicate & Empower.

1. Educate yourself on the psyche of a child molester:

The molester could be a man, woman or teenager. Could be single or married, homosexual or heterosexual, most often a friend or family member. Paradoxically, the person causing damage to your child is often someone you trust. Financial and educational background doesn’t matter – this person can be a domestic aid or a corporate executive. (Sometimes the Devil does wear Prada)

Basically, anyone can be a child molester and since there is no way you can identify them on the basis of their appearance, you must understand their psyche.

The molester begins by gaining the trust of your child (and yours too). He/She gets to know their likes and dislikes very well. This person often buys goodies, treats and gifts for your child. He/She tries to get alone time with them. They will go to the extent of touching your child in your presence so the child gets the (wrong) message that it is OK for them to do so in private too.

Molesters are smooth operators who prey on a child’s feeling of guilt, fear or shame. They even go to the extent of manipulating a kid to believe that this is somehow the kid’s fault.

What you can do to avoid this:

2. Communicate With your child:

a) Keep all lines of communication open with your child. If there is lack of communication between parents and children, the Molester takes advantage of the situation to further isolate the child.

b) Teach your child the difference between the ‘good touch’ (like a mother’s hug) and a ‘bad touch’ (anyone touching their private parts).

c) Since you can’t tell who is a molester and who is harmless, discourage people you are not too sure of from seating your child in their lap as a preventive step.

d) Tell your child that it is not OK for anyone to touch their private parts and if someone does so, they must report it to you immediately.

e) Never let anyone crack a dirty joke in your child’s presence.

Signs you must take note of:

– Child remains angry all the time
– Cries a lot or remains depressed
– Tries to avoid being with a certain elder
– Is unusually attached to a certain elder and tries to protect them
– Seems withdrawn and doesn’t communicate

3. Empower your child:

Let your children know that you are there for them no matter what, and mean it. Trust a child when he/she complains to you. It takes a lot of courage for them to speak up and if you take them lightly, they may not approach you again.

Most importantly, if you find out, do raise your voice and confront the molester. Such people are serial offenders and if not confronted, they will find another prey. Public humiliation is the only thing that will stop a molester.

The question remains – will we continue to live in denial or will each one of us find the courage to break social stereotype and have a heart-to-heart talk with our children?

(1098 is a free emergency child helpline number)

*(Ref: 2007 report by UNICEF & Ministry of Child and Women Development)

If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at dial1098@childlineindia.org.in. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.

You must be to comment.
  1. just a human with no gender,no religion and no nationality

    Well written Mriganka!!!

    Acts of molestation, bullying or any other kind of violence to children are increasing at a high rate. I think it is easy for parents to know from a child younger than 12 -13 yrs, through the symptoms you mentioned above, to understand whether he/she has been abused. But from a teenager I think it is quiet difficult. But teenage is the time when we face a lot of abuse physically and emotionally.

    It is during adolescence that parents and teenagers are to be each other’s best friends and not each other’s enemies who want the other to just obey and the other keeps rebelling. It is very important that teenagers must have the courage to talk to your parents and for this it must be made sure that parents see their kids as best friends who need your help and support and advice.

    Many parents teach their kids to be scared of them but what actually is to be taught is to respect them. When a child respect their parents, feelings of fear, love and respect for parents is built in them and for this it is important that BOTH RESPECT EACH OTHERS OPINION, BOTH OF THEM TRUST EACH OTHER, BOTH OF THEM CARE FOR EACH OTHER.

    1. Cees Tompot

      Authority never can be taken for granted. One has to deserve it, again and again. Once in a while parents could earn authority by apologizing to their children. They thus offer their childrenthe opportunity to experience that apologizing is a courageous act.
      No one can demand authority on base of race, sexe, titles, development or whatever. The caste system for example falls short because of the authority that is claimed and not deserved on base of behaviour. (hollow like a title.)

    2. MrigankaDadwal

      You both have summed it up very well… especially when kids reach adolescence and need someone they can confide in more than ever, parents put too many restrictions upon them rather than being a friend, a mentor and a counselor.

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