Poet, Author, Editor, Creative Writing Consultant

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month -Parents Should Open Communication Channels with Kids

Child sexual abuse takes place because the child has no protection, no one to turn to. A child is trusting and innocent. When something like this happens, the child would not know what it is that is happening to him/her. The terror, the agony, and then the guilt, coupled with the threats of the molester, all of these would add up to silencing the child.

So it is very important that parents keep the channels of communication open between themselves and their children. Parents often drill so much of morality and what is right and wrong into the minds of their children, in order to teach them to tread the straight and narrow path. Yet, they fail to warn their children about those who may have no morals at all as far as children are concerned.  Parents have to teach their children about the ‘right kind of touch’ by others, and the wrong kind of touch.  And in the ‘others’ , the rest of the family members should also be included, the brothers, cousins, uncles and grandparents. Servants should also be included in this list of ‘others’ , even old, trustable, family servants.

 Many parents fight shy of talking to their children, because they do not know how to talk to their kids regarding such matters. Some parents also feel that such talk is ‘dirty’.  They first have to teach themselves that creating awareness of sexual matters, and also making their children aware of the dangers of sexual molestation  is not ‘dirty’ nor ‘shameful’, nor something to be embarrassed about.

Very often it has come to my notice that children are scared of their mother and father, and do not want to discuss anything with either of them, whether it be their dreams or their terrors. Parents, please have an open mind towards your children, you do want the best for them, and you do want them to be safe and sound , especially within the four walls that they call ‘home’.  Be open to their thoughts and ideas, be understanding and compassionate, and try not to be judgmental.  Children need to have someone to turn to and trust with their deepest feelings, and parents need to have the time and ability to understand those feelings.

Parents who teach their children about sex, and about what the right or wrong touch is, guide their children well.  Parents who tell their children that they must be informed if someone ‘wrongly ‘touches them, even if this is done by  a much loved uncle of the family, or a visiting friend of their father’s, are saving their children from a lot of pain. For this, parents have to keep their channels of communication open.

It can happen that the molester is the father himself. In which case, the mother has to be the strong one and the one who supports the child and listens to him/her and takes action. A mother who turns a blind eye or refuses to listen to her child is as much a perpetrator. Mothers cannot claim to be helpless. They have to support the child and get in touch with help from an NGO like RAHI ,or any other, which helps them deal with such traumatic experiences. Anything to do with the family becomes a touchy, sensitive and complex issue, so outside help is required, which works in the form of support and guidance and action to be taken.

However, the first step begins from home, it is important to show love to the child by making him/her aware of the existence of child sexual abuse and incest.  If guidance is required regarding the right age and how to do this kind of awareness creation, once again concerned parents can turn to books on the subject, and to the help and guidance offered by NGO s who work on such issues, like RAHI.

RAHI is Delhi based, but other NGOs are working with such issues all over India and abroad. The bottom line is that Child Sexual Abuse exists, and parents must make their children aware about it, in a gentle and educated manner.