When I was growing up, there wasn’t much awareness about abuse inflicted on children. Children being punished severely or being beaten up for committing a mistake or for not studying were considered common acts of discipline that every conscientious parent undertook diligently and practised regularly.
Sexual abuse of children was unheard of. Sometimes it was considered a taboo to even talk about it. Such was the apathy and ignorance of parents that the abused child was left to fend for himself or herself though the size of the family was large and the child had many to whom she/he could turn to, but dared NOT.
Being a mother myself with a history of positive and negative experiences, I would like to educate others on how to keep their child safe and happy. Here are some do’s and don’ts that I have listed that might be useful.
1. Educate your child: Teach your child starting from ages 5-16yrs on various issues that pertain to morality. Teach your child various gestures or actions that can bring immorality or injury to a child.
Show them the parts of body that should not be touched by anyone without their consent. This teaching needs to be taught on a daily basis. This talk can bring about awareness in the child.
2. Become the best friend of your child: Talk to your child on a daily basis, letting him or her know that they can confide in you in any matter without being scolded or made fun of. Trust gathered should be such that the child considers you to be his/her best friend and can tell you anything anytime.
Spend time answering each and every question, posed by your child even if it is silly. Remember you are now the older best friend that the child has and can always turn to you for help or ask you anything on any matter instead of going elsewhere which might mean loss of faith.
3. Keep tabs: If the child is spending time with any uncle, neighbour, stepfather, friend or anyone for a longer period of time, keep tabs on them, checking on them from time to time.
Also ensure that someone else or his/her peers or friends are with the child when spending time with the adult. This reduces the chances of the child being abused, drastically.
1. Never ever trust ANYONE blindly with your child: It can be anyone you know very closely, who frequents your house regularly, or has access to your child when you are away, DO NOT TRUST THEM. Trust only your child and listen to the child when he/she wants to talk to you or tell you something. Remember your foremost priorities always lie with your child.
2. Never ignore the SIGNS that the child displays: These may be very childlike or may seem to be childish tantrums that might go unnoticed by you. But look for signs of change in behaviour or mood swings or sleeplessness that the child exhibits. DONOT IGNORE THESE SIGNS. Take the child into confidence and talk to him/her.
3. Do not procrastinate in reporting the offence to the authorities: Howsoever trivial the matter might be or howsoever familiar a person the offender might be or you might be in close relationship with the offender or reporting the matter to the police might leave you in dire straits or whatever the compulsion may be, DO NOT HESITATE to notify the authorities. Remember you will be committing grave injustice on your child if you do not report the matter to the police.
Your child will be scarred for life if you hesitate or try to hush up the matter without taking any concrete action.
4. Never trust the adult who will naturally lie to cover himself up: When confronted the adult might deny vehemently always trying to protect him/her with these statements, ‘How can you believe what a 5 yr old is saying?’ or ‘Do you think I am capable of doing such a thing?’ or ‘It was a misunderstanding’.
These are foolproof statements of the predator or offender who will always project himself/herself as the aggrieved party or will show concern only for himself and will never exhibit any remorse towards the child.
Remember a child’s safety and happiness are your foremost priority and CANNOT be compromised in any way by anyone. The child trusts only you and no one else. So do not betray that trust by letting him/her down.