As a society, we don’t talk enough about topics like sex education, menstruation, reproduction etc. This is definitely the need of the hour. The more repressed we are, the more sexual crimes happen. The worst amongst these is pedophilia. How do we control these crimes? Almost every day, we see newspapers filled with such horrible reports. It has become depressing to pick up a newspaper.
A couple days ago, the case of a 12 year old girl came to light. She was raped about 30 times in the last two years. Her family was involved and money was exchanged. The incident came to light only by chance and the child felt so guilty about her parents getting into trouble that she apologized to her mother!
On one hand, we talk about parents educating their children about good touch and bad touch. On the other hand, there are certain parents who themselves get involved in such heinous crimes. Then who would teach the child to speak up, to understand what is right and wrong? In that case, it falls on the teachers, other elders, and all of us really, to ensure that children around us can approach us without fear. This can be achieved by training our children first, who can then not only help themselves but other children in need.
Of course, we need stricter laws, stringent punishments etc. but we can help at individual level – by educating and preparing our children. For example, good touch bad touch is a very important part of childhood training, both for boys and girls. It will help them learn to not only avoid being a victim, but also to avoid being the offender at a later stage.
- As soon as the child starts speaking, demonstrate what bad touch is, when and how to complain about it and what to do if someone touches them in a bad way, even if by mistake. Children should be able to approach their parents with these things, and should always be taken seriously. Children have an active imagination, but every such complaint is worth exploring, to save the child physical and psychological trauma.
- Do not leave your child alone with any relative or anyone else for long periods of time. If you have to, then monitor the child’s behaviour afterwards and encourage children to share their day with you.
- Teach them how to respond to certain situations. For example, what if someone comes to them and says that ‘I will buy you chocolates’. Or worse, approaches them with some fake emergency like ‘your father is sick and in the hospital’, or ‘your sister is in trouble and waiting for you’. Teach your child not to follow that person and to try to find out if the information is true first. Perhaps the child can respond with ‘Thanks but I am already informed and waiting for my mother to pick me up’. Do not, under any circumstances, fall into the trap.
- One more thing to train your child in is what to do if someone tries to touch them inappropriately in a public place. Train them to raise an alarm. Teach them ways to avoid or retaliate. Encourage them to share any experiences they might have had.
- Lastly, let your child mingle with the opposite sex. You can establish boundaries, but stopping them from being friends with the other sex can turn out harmful as they will not be able to learn how to be around them, how to deal with them and how to accept and respect their differences.
The key is to be friendly and approachable. By all means, having authority is paramount. But please do not let the children be scared of reaching out to you when he/she needs help.