10 ways to teach your child the skills to prevent sexual abuse
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10 ways to teach your child the skills to prevent sexual abuse

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Sumiran Annamaria Kashyap Trainee Yogi, Energy Healing Enthusiast
5 min read

10 ways to teach your child the skills to prevent sexual abuse

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Sexual abuse, is sexual abuse. No case of it is more, or less heart-wrenching than another one. But, it does break one’s spirit when one hears more and more incidents of children being sexual abuse victims.

Sexual abuse, is sexual abuse. No case of it is more, or less heart-wrenching than another one. But, it does break one’s spirit when one hears more and more incidents of children being sexual abuse victims.

What advise can you give your child(ren), regarding sexual abuse? Read on.

Break down the facts for them.

It’s instinctive nature to speak in simplified child’s language, and that does include a bit of sugar-coating. Don’t take that attitude when it comes to educating a child about sexual abuse. Remember that the child of today has learned to operate an iPad, at an age when you and I were struggling to hold a glass of milk firmly. Depending on the age of the child(ren), you’ve to take a personal call as to how graphic and descriptive you can be about what sexual abuse is. Even if it’s a child too young to know the ‘extra’ details, explain to them that any verbal communication, or body language, that makes them feel uncomfortable, or wary of coming too close to the adult who is trying to communicate with them, is something to be red-flagged to you, the parent(s).

Teach them to politely avoid strangers.

Indian communities are amongst the few in the world who don’t find it strange when strangers in the park, or on the bus, want to wave and smile at, or hold the hands of their children. In fact, we find the attention and the compliments flattering. There are societies that don’t take kindly to this tendency, and perhaps, with good reason. Children end up processing information in a misdirected fashion, in that they assume that all strangers are over-flowing with goodwill. They begin to trust strangers easily based on the experiences that have had even the tiniest approval or appreciation from their parents and other care-givers. Rapists and paedophiles are classic socio-psychopaths. They are adept at masking their intentions with an outer garb of warm and welcoming congeniality. Should your child succumb to these, simply on past (innocent!) reference points, it could be your worst nightmare coming true.

Encourage them to say ‘No’.

Don’t force your child to hug, shake hands with, or perch on the lap of any person, if it’s something they’re not willing to do. If your child has told you it makes him or her uncomfortable, try and understand the reasoning. In any case, teach them to politely say, “I’m okay to just shake hands, thank you.” Or, “I’d rather sit on my own chair if you don’t mind, thank you.” Your child is completely within his or her rights to say, “no”, if someone knocks on their door and asks to come in. The more confident you make your child in the art of asserting personal boundaries, the less likely are they to be susceptible to forced invitations outside of your home.

Instruct them to share any instances they may have experienced.'

One example that comes to mind, is that of the seedy family friend uncle, who laughingly and ‘gently’ remarked on your young, and changing teenage body. Unfortunately, one of the most stagnant and senseless diktats of human society – and particularly Indian society – is that an elder is entitled to respect simply because they’re an elder. Children are supposed to turn to elders for wisdom, and reassurance. Anyone who behaves like the seedy uncle, deserves to be exposed and shamed, both for their lack of elderly judgement, and for their perverse intentions. Teach your child to be morally fearless, and promise them they’d always have your support, should they have the misfortune to encounter such ‘uncles’. Needless to say, you need to stop socialising with such people yourself.

train your child to pickup signs of child sexual abuse

Train them to pick up tactile signals.

What is a touch – a caress, a firm hold, a rub, or a hug – that your child can trust? How should they, especially if they’re really very young know how to differentiate between one that’s ‘right’, and one that’s not? Involve your partners and other friends and family members, and conduct simple and small role-plays, to familiarise your child(ren) with different scenarios and body language examples. After all, “I didn’t know” is the most honest, but also the saddest reason an unaware child can give, if they were to trust someone playing with, teaching, or chaperoning them, that they shouldn’t have trusted. Who’s going to feel the most guilty? You.

Remind  them that rules of communication apply even if they happen to be witnesses.

It’s possible that your child(ren) could, or does have friends who are unfortunate victims of sexual abuse. Tell them that if they were to ever encounter a narrative, or, harrowingly, witness something, they are to inform you, or the nearest trustworthy adult. It’s a painful reality that child-witness also do become victims when they try to save the other child(ren), or raise an alarm; which makes it exceedingly important to maintain the right kind of adult-supervised environment for children, in any context.

‘Body talk’ and photography is not okay.

Older children and adults, regardless of their gender, shouldn’t be taking pictures of naked children, or their private parts, or talking about them, and your child(ren) need to know this for a fact. I’ve personally encountered a seemingly innocent, but frankly, in my opinion, appalling situation, wherein a mother was attempting to make her infant son laugh by prodding his penis and calling it a ‘bell’, while changing his diapers and clothes for him! Again, she’s conditioning her son to believe that if his nanny or governess did the same, it’s okay, and he should laugh about it. No!

body shaming is not okay and is a child abuse

They’ve to tell you about all their friends.

This includes the neighbourhood adults who love to babysit them, the ones who offer them sweets in the park and encourage them to play with their own children or grandchildren, and/or the elder siblings of their school friends who always take time to play with, or tutor them. If your child finds it exciting or intriguing to announce that they’ve got a ‘secret friend’ you don’t know about, you simply have to explain to them that it can’t – and shouldn’t remain a secret, ever.

They should understand the concept of ‘spiked’ drinks and food.

Absolute strangers offering your child(ren) sweets, meals, or juices is something to always watch out for. Explain to your child(ren) that they’re under no obligation to accept these items, as dangerous sexual offenders depend on them to bait unsuspecting children. Even if it’s in a scenario where you might not be present, such as a field trip, or even the school cafeteria, instruct your child(ren) to inform the adult in-charge, and to check with them at all times.

instruct your child(ren) to inform the adult in-charge incase of sexual abuse

Keep reinforcing your lessons.

Making your child(ren) aware isn’t enough, you’ve to make sure they commit what they now know, to memory. It’s necessary they do this, so that they know what to look for and how to react to it. Keep remind them, check in with the goings-on of their day when they’ve been out of the house, always go over the instructions with them every time they’re going to be somewhere that you aren’t.

“It can’t happen to my child.”

Everyone likes to think so, including those people whose children have been unfortunate victims of sexual abuse. I’m saying that you can’t get too complacent about the fact that the support system(s) of friends and family surrounding your child(ren) at home, school, university, playgrounds and parties are wholly and completely trustworthy. You can’t predict or control many things, but you can be a conscientious parent, elder family member or well-wisher, sibling, or friend, and do your best to sensitise child(ren) to the importance of personal boundaries, and the need to speak up.  

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Sumiran Annamaria Kashyap

Sumiran Annamaria Kashyap

Trainee Yogi, Energy Healing Enthusiast
Sumiran Kashyap Sahni is a chamomile tea loving freelance writer; formerly a caffeine loving financial services recruitment consultant. Her areas of interest are health and wellness, beauty, fashion, (a smattering of) prose, and any work of nature, or the human hand, that delights her heart. On the World Wide Web, she’s also known as Thinking Totty. She specifically writes about health and wellness from a lifestyle-choice perspective, and gets all her bright ideas when she’s practicing yoga, or chakra and reiki meditation.
Sumiran Annamaria Kashyap

Sumiran Annamaria Kashyap

Trainee Yogi, Energy Healing Enthusiast
Sumiran Kashyap Sahni is a chamomile tea loving freelance writer; formerly a caffeine loving financial services recruitment consultant. Her areas of interest are health and wellness, beauty, fashion, (a smattering of) prose, and any work of nature, or the human hand, that delights her heart. On the World Wide Web, she’s also known as Thinking Totty. She specifically writes about health and wellness from a lifestyle-choice perspective, and gets all her bright ideas when she’s practicing yoga, or chakra and reiki meditation.


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