In to this peaceful, pleasant and perfect world that God created, evil entered in various ways. and perfection resulted in imperfection which is manifested in personal grief, lack of hope, faith and trust and the loss of safety and security of human life. among all these, child sexual abuse is the most heinous evil that has been creeping into the minds of people of all ages, and it has ruined moral values and ethical life both in the family and society.
Lustful feelings and selfishness of man led human life to go through painful experiences, and much of it occur in childhood itself. Caretakers alone are sometimes unable to protect children from painful experiences. Statistics presented by various organizations working with children indicate that more than half the populations of Indian children suffer from child sexual abuse in one form or other.
Sexual abuse is when any person, young, adult or child forces, tricks, threatens, or coerces a child to have sexual contact with him or her for the benefit of personal sexual excitement and satisfaction. Showing children pornographic pictures or films or telling them explicitly sexual stories can be a form of sexual abuse. Some children are forced or encouraged to have sexual contact or intercourse with parents, uncles, grandparents, friends of the family, and servants in the house. Other children have sexual contacts with strangers. Most of the times one’s own family members make one the victim of child sexual abuse but unfortunately parents are unable to understand the children because lack of knowledge, ignorance, illiteracy, fear of shame etc… At times parents become only the birth givers not caretakers. Nowadays most of the parents are busy working in the fields or at offices leaving their children at home with someone or servants in the house.
Most parents think that they should give the best to their children which make them keep earning money to give entertainment and excitement through toys, dresses and all the material goods. However, they forget the importance of caring for their children. Very often the negligence of children by their parents becomes the root cause of the horrible experience of sexual abuse in childhood. The literature that I have read on child sexual abuse, the personal testimonies of survivors of child sexual abuse and the experiences that people have shared personally with me make me conclude that this is a reality which many face in today’s world.
How to respond to a possible situation of sexual abuse
· If your child says that she/he does not want to play with uncle / cousin / servant / brother etc… you need to pick up what the child wants to say, but is unable to say. The child may be trying to tell you that it is the victim of sexual abuse. She/he may say that uncle is not good or he is bad. In such situations DO NOT scold the child or punish the child and defend the good character of the uncle. The child knows only the word “bad” and nothing more. Stay with the feeling of the child, and help her or him to speak out more in a very gentle and non-intrusive way. You may take for granted that your child may be in a situation of sexual abuse. It is here that you need to believe your child. DO NOT believe the uncle or cousin or play down what your child says. You may be missing out the ONLY chance to protect your ONLY child.
· The child may say that uncle did something bad to me. In such or similar situations you may ask the child whether he touched her / him and whether that made her / him feel not good. Allow the child to use her / his expressions and feelings. It is of utmost importance that you communicate to your child that she / he is far more precious to you than the uncle or cousin. A sense of security, homeliness, trust needs to be communicated to the child. If your child is made a victim of sexual abuse, then you are the BEST healer for her or him. The process of healing will have begun from the time the child feels unthreatened and protected by you.
· The next step in the process of dealing with possible abuse is to make the child feel that no matter what has happened she / he is still your dearest and best one. Help the child feel that she / he is still good and that for you she / he matters much. These words have meaning only if you avoid everything that would make the child feel negative about her or him. It is of utmost help if you rock the child on your lap if she or he expresses signs of pain and discomfort and go along with whatever she / he finds helpful to move on without remaining in negativity.
· NEVER BLAME OR PUNISH THE CHILD. Parents are in the habit of blaming the child for whatever may go wrong because it is easier to blame the child than the adult. Besides, the child cannot defend itself. In no way your child is responsible for what has happened (assuming something has gone wrong). Never say: ‘You are a bad girl’ or ‘You are a bad boy’. To be labeled as bad for innocent behavior is the greatest harm one can do to a child. Ensure that the so called ‘uncle’ or ‘cousin’ is blamed and the child should be helped to think and feel that it has done no wrong. The blame is to go totally and entirely to the perpetrator. The wrong is done by the perpetrator, whoever that person is. The child must believe that you know it.
· Ask the child whether she / he would like a change. For example a change in the driver who transports her / him to the school; the shopkeeper who regularly supplies the stationery; the teacher who takes tuition; the kitchen girl who prepares the food etc… Remember the perpetrator of the crime is very close to the child and is a confidant.
· Ensure the safety of the child in all contexts. If need be, change the location where the child frequents or the school that she / he frequents. Protect the privacy of the child as much as possible. It is of utmost importance that no one gets a chance to make the child feel bad, sad and ashamed. No matter how good your intention is, any move that would re-victimize the child can have irreparable psychological consequences on her / him.
· In case of legal complications, you need to understand that the psychological well-being of the child is “above all the legal requirements” and accordingly you should proceed with expert advice from competent persons as how to protect the safe environment of the child. This is a complex issue and one needs to handle it giving top priority for the well-being of the child.
· REMEMBER, there is no one who is as capable and competent as you, the parent, to bring the original innocence back to the child. She or he can be totally and completely made well, in case sexual abuse has taken place, provided you stay with the child with all the love you can pour out on her /him.
Pinki Virani states that “child sexual abuse includes”:
· An adult exposing his or her genitals to a child or persuading the child to do the same.
· An adult touching a child’s genitals or making the child touch the adult’s genitalia
· An adult involving a child in pornography which includes showing a child pornographic material.
· An adult having oral, vaginal or anal intercourse with a child
· Any verbal or other sexual suggestion made to a child by an adult
· An adult persuading children to engage in sexual activity among themselves
· An adult inserting foreign objects into a child’s body for his, or her, own sexual
some experts suggest:
some experts suggest:
How to protect your children:
· Inform children that it is wrong for adults to engage them in sexual activity.
· Stress with your child that he or she should feel comfortable telling you anything, especially if it involves another adult. If your child does not feel comfortable being completely honest with you, then together should find another trusted adult that your child can talk to in confidence.
· Make an effort to know the people with whom your child is spending time.
· Knowledge is power. This is especially true for protecting children from sexual assault. Teach your children about their body parts and physical growth; give them correct language to use when describing their private parts. Emphasize that those parts are private.
· Make sure you know where your children are at all times. Know your children’s friends and be clear with your children about the places and homes they may visit. Make it a rule that your children inform you when they arrive at or depart from a particular location and when there is a change in plan. You should also let your children know if you are coming late or if your plans have changed so that they can see the rule for safety purposes.
· Never leave children unattended in an automobile whether on running or at halt. Children should never be left unsupervised or allowed to spend time alone or with others in automobiles as the potential dangers to their safety outweigh any perceived convenience or “fun”; remind children never to hitchhike, approach a car or engage in a conversation with anyone in a car whom they do not know or trust, or go anywhere with anyone without getting your permission first.
· Spend more time with your children and indulge them in different activities. As an active participant, you will have a better opportunity to observe how the adults in charge interact with your children. if you are concerned about anyone’s behavior, take it up with the appropriate person.Listen to your children. Be a careful listener to your child. In their conversation with you they let you know many a thing of their priorities- whether being with someone or going somewhere. This may be an indication of more than a personality conflict or lack of interest in the activity or event. Take special notice and explore what make your child say, "That uncle is bad". In such situation never scold or punish your child, instead find out why he/ she makes such a statement.
· Notice when someone shows to one or all of your children a great deal of attention while giving them gifts. Take time to talk to your children to know more about them and their behavior.
· Teach your children that they have the right to say ‘no’ to any unwelcome, uncomfortable, or confusing touches or actions by others. Teach them to inform you immediately if this happens. Reassure them that you are there to help and it is okay to tell you anything.
· Be sensitive to any changes in your children’s behavior or attitude. Encourage open communication and learn how to be an active listener. Look and listen to small cues and clues that something may be troubling your children, because children are not always comfortable disclosing disturbing events or feelings. This may be because they are concerned about your reaction to their problems. If your children do confide problems to you, strive to remain calm, non-critical and non judgmental. Listen compassionately to their concern and work with them to get the help they need to resolve the problem.
· Be sure to screen babysitters and caregivers. Check references with other families who have used the caregiver or babysitter. Once you have chosen the caregiver, drop in unexpectedly to see how your children are doing. Ask your children how the experience with the caregiver was, and listen carefully to their responses.
· Practice basic safety measures for your children while going out for shopping in a mall or a park. Teach your children the awareness of identifying the behavior of strangers at these places. Give them the education of dressing sense to dress modestly
· Remember there is no substitute for your attention and supervision. Being available always and sparing time to know and listen to your children helps them build confidence in you and have a feeling of safety and security.
· Also remember that in the vast majority of cases, almost 90% of the children are molested by someone they know, and are acquainted with the family. Your efforts in keeping your child safe must be your priority. Child sexual abuse takes place in a trusted context. Informed by this fact do not be focused exclusively on the danger that strangers may present.
· Finally believe your child. Children usually do not lie