The current pandemic has inadvertently generated major concerns for children and has made them more vulnerable to the atrocities of the world.
Having had the opportunity to volunteer for a helpline number to provide help during this crisis, I talked to someone who was a victim of child sexual abuse and was in the dire need of help.
It made me realize how cardinal it is to educate children about sexual abuse and provide an environment of complete acceptance. We teach our kids to protect themselves from all sorts of things like hot vessels, crossing the road after looking at both sides, etc.
The pandemic opens a channel to sit down and provide a comprehensive understanding to your child through various activities.
A comprehensive prevention strategy should include increasing the parent’s awareness and knowledge of protective measures they can take on behalf of their children.
It is necessary to acknowledge CSA and have an open discussion about it. Let your child know about cases and the relevance of it in this world. Help them understand CSA through a story.
Talk to your child about their body parts. Explicitly state that some body parts are private and can only be touched by the mother or doctor.
A child who feels comfortable is a shining beam and to teach them about safe touch and unsafe touch is important. One could do this by making a song or a pictorial representation of the body and asking them to point at the private parts i.e mouth, chest, between the legs and bottom.
Tell your child that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask them to touch somebody’s private parts. Parents will often forget the second part of this sentence.
Sexual abuse often begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else. Help them understand the difference between a teacher’s pat on the back and someone’s touch on their private body part.
Help your child draw a trust circle, four people that the child trusts without apprehension, and let the people your child trusts understand the importance of such a conversation.
It could be the father, mother, siblings or teacher. Help them draw a circle and place these people in them. Tell them about how they act as their bodyguard and will protect them.
Emotional regulation is the ability to respond to the emotions felt in any given situation in a healthy and socially acceptable way.
As adults, we practice this skill often, but it’s something that children need to practice in order to develop. Responses such as tantrums, shouting or meltdowns are signals that children are having difficulty regulating their emotions.
Help them understand the difference between different emotions and which situations entail which particular emotion.
Happy when you get your favorite food or angry when someone snatches your favorite toy.
The most important aspect is to provide unconditional positive regard if the child ever comes forth with an incident. Children often emulate the values of their parents and seek approval, a situation like this allows the child to understand that it’s not their fault.
It helps their esteem and brings forth a clearer understanding that eventually aids their growth. Allowing them a space where they can be themselves and where they are encouraged to work through their emotions in a healthy way can make all the difference in their lives.
Help them learn the child helpline number and the importance of 1098.
The physical signs of child sexual abuse are often hard to detect. However, one can provide a child with the confidence to reach out in a frightful situation through comfort and acceptance.
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.