Global cultures would like to believe that we are living in the 21st century in an ultra-civilised and avant-garde world, modern and progressive in every way possible. Yet violence against children, especially child sexual abuse (CSA), is a chronic human tragedy in these societies. CSA continues to be one of the most serious and disconcerting challenges the world faces today. Even after following several measures, including legislation and regulations designed and enforced to regulate this abhorrent activity, CSA remains pervasive nationwide.
It must be recognised that human understanding and attitudes are as important and relevant in curbing or CSA as is law. In some communities, the perception of individuals towards abuse is often entrenched as accepted human behaviour, which impedes the progress towards reducing and eliminating child sexual abuse.
In India, thousands of girls and boys are sexually assaulted in homes, playgrounds, schools, public areas, and so-called “safe spaces.” They’re not safe at home with their relatives or acquaintances, nor outside in public areas. While there has been a substantial increase in the reporting of offences, the courts are inefficient in disposing of these cases.
Crimes against children have grown by 84% in just three years. One of the most effective ways of solving this problem on ground level is to spread awareness both within and outside our communities.
The earlier a dialogue on child sexual abuse starts, the easier it will be for your children to share their thoughts and feelings openly. The best you can do is to make them believe that you are always there for them. They should be briefed on what is good touch and bad touch.
Allow your children to speak about their body parts from an early phase in their lives, and use proper names to identify them. All their questions should be addressed and answered in a non-stigmatising way.
Never discipline your child for telling the truth as it gives them negative reinforcement about the same. Inform them about privacy, and help brush aside all their anxiety and discomfort. Most importantly, teach them how to be assertive and respond when they are in an unsafe situation.
Trust your child. If they tell you about an incident, do not wave it off as a joke or figment of imagination. This will discourage the child to speak to you in times of need. Ensure that your child trusts you.
Therefore, to ensure the health of your child and spread knowledge among the masses, it is equally necessary to make the child comfortable with their bodies. The role you may play here is that of a confidant who listens to the child without pushing them away.
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.