Children are little buds that need a healthy environment to bloom, and the abuse that is done to them makes them go into a peevish cocoon and never venture out. It could be a scar that time would fail to erase. Child abuse is a form of corporal, emotional and psychosomatic mistreatment of children. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention defines child abuse as, “child mistreatment due to any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child.”
As you are reading this, I can assure you that 1 in every 5 girls and 1 in every 20 boys is a survivor of sexual abuse. Well, if you haven’t seen one within close quarters, you can try to place yourself in their shoes, and the very thought will make your skin prick. Doesn’t it?
Listed below are some of the pointers that we should trace while dealing with this delicate subject.
Strangers Are Not The Only Threat: – Gone are the days where our family was a utopian set-up and pedophiles were supposed to be only strangers who would want to quench their thirst by playing with random kids. We are now at a stage where we see cases of family members abusing children for their amusement. Beware!
Good Touch And Bad Touch: It is very important for a parent or caregiver to make the child understand the difference between the good touch and the bad one. Children seek love from everyone around them; it is our duty to ensure that they receive only the right kind.
The Scar That Never Heals: The mind of a child is very fragile. Once eroded, it is hardly ever possible to come back to the perceived ‘normal’ state. While being abused, they hardly realise its implications, but once the reality sets in, words like trust and innocence are gone forever.
Gauging The Indicators: The indicators of sexual abuse could range from difficulty in walking or sitting; torn, stained, or bloody underclothing, too unwilling to change for or participate in a physical education class. It could also be withdrawal, fantasy, or infantile behavior. As caregivers, it is our duty to keep a lookout for these signs and definitely, not at any cost ignore them.
The Importance Of Sex Education: It is high time that we understand that sex education is as important in the Indian context as much as a history lesson is. The Indian education system is still in its nascent stage and deals with this topic in a hushed tone. If we want to provide a healthy and holistic environment for the next generation, this is where we need to begin.
Standing By The Child: Children have a very brittle mindset. It is to be handled in a subtle manner and an apt way. The child might not know what struck him/her; s/he might have to live his entire life under the shadow of guilt and shame. You can change that by being a supportive caregiver with whom the child can open up and share his/her experience without having the fear of being judged.
We now are standing at the junction where we have to decide to either take the train to a bright future or return to the hideous past. The choice is yours, so make a wise one. Help stop child abuse.
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 email@example.com. You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.