Prevent Child Sexual Abuse – Talk ‘Birds and Bees’

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Disclaimer: My experience in this matter is limited to my conversations with my younger sister since she was 13 for 7 years now. A few friends also shared their experiences with “the talk”.

Let me first clarify what I intend to write in here. I do not mean that you go and tell your kids all the complications of life and confuse the hell out of them. All I intend to do is that you prepare your children to save themselves from the possible sex offenders who may hover around. And if you think that your child is protected and lives within a safe bubble, I, without intending to make you paranoid, must tell you that your child’s predators are nearer to him/her than you can imagine. At the same time, please note, anyone – girl or boy, of any age – 3 or 13 or more can be a victim. Please do not live with a utopic mind that nothing wrong can happen or is happening to your child.

Okay, so how to begin?

  • It is better that you do not start it with a serious note.
  • Pick it up as a general regular conversation, may be in a commercial break while watching a TV. Pause when the program resumes. And bring it back in some other time. It is important that the whole conversation sounds important but not serious. Otherwise, it may develop fear within.
  • The voice should be loud and clear; not hesitating.

What to talk?

  • First, talk about love. Talk about evil. Talk about disguise. Tell some stories to explain these concepts. You may try a ‘Krishna’ There you can tell how the evils may approach us in the disguise of the goods.
  • Now, talk about different degrees of love – mother’s love, father’s love, siblings’ love, love that binds an entire family together, love outside the family – among relatives and friends and neighbors.
  • You may also include how in very early stages, a mother and a child communicate only through touch.
  • Once you get to the point of ‘touch’, proceed gradually. Maybe to bring in an example saying that one time how the Dad squeezed the Mother’s hand to mean that someone, who they were talking about, was watching them.
  • Now, you can talk about the ‘good’ touch and the ‘bad’ touch. At the same time, bring in a talk on private parts.
  • Tell him/her that any touch that makes him/she feel uncomfortable should be opposed. Then make clear that incidents as such should be reported without any delay.
  • This is not a one-time talk. It has to be recurring. This thing, that ‘bad touches’ are unacceptable and should be brought into the notice of adults, should be talked about regularly, bringing in examples. Again, remember, this should sound important, not serious, even though you realize how serious it is.

What to do?

  • Show what kinds of touches are allowed. Do not demonstrate mechanically. Make it natural in everyday life within the family members. Show examples of ‘bad touches’ from a TV show. Tell them the punishments for a molester.
  • For younger kids who needs assistance while bathing, talk about private parts then and possibly also tell them the differences that exist in the opposite sex. This will open their mind.
  • And when you are talking in this topic, try and use the traditional terms of the organs instead of your “cute little nicknames”. That will make it sound important.
  • Never ignore complaints, if any, brought to you by your child. Even if you think that such complaint has no basis or there is no question of the doubt from such a source, investigate and then conclude. Also, let your child know that you worked on it.

When to start the talk?

  • I recommend that you take baby steps with your baby. Start the talk already when your baby is capable of understanding you which is as early as 2.5 to 3 years.
  • If you have not done it then, you can start it any day, anytime.
  • For the best, start it TODAY!!
  • It is easier to talk to the younger kids, the preadolescents.
  • If you have an adolescent child, you may have to actually answer some of their inquiries related to human sexuality. Do not hesitate. Come on, it is utterly natural. If you feel odd, then before telling them, both of you can sit together and watch a documentary on reproductive evolution on Earth. That will give it a biological vibe and may be, it will be easier to talk.

What may you have to be prepared for?

  • It is possible that the child may be hesitant about what you are speaking. This may be because your child is already exposed to the prevalent taboo in the society to some extent.
  • At times, if your child gets a little upset with you for some reason, he/she may also resist your touch to pick on you saying that it feels uncomfortable. Bear with that; your child’s safety is more important than you getting to caress your child.
  • Unfortunately, you may also find that (s)he is already facing trouble. The trouble may also be coming from a predator of same sex as well. Do not react severely. Take steady and planned steps.

I have been a victim myself to my neighbor and I know how bad it is. I wish I had told my parents earlier. My parents wish they had talked to me earlier.

Hridi* was raped when she was 5 by her uncle; she wishes she had never told her parents, they silenced her. Bheem* was 16, yet he ran away from school; he wishes he had complained against his seniors to the authority. Maithili* at 13, was molested by her sister’s father-in-law; her parents wished that they never married their daughter in that family. Chandan*(13) is not contended because his molester, a teacher from his school, was never punished.

*names are changed irrelevant, they are not my friends only. Look around, they are everywhere.

ACT BEFORE YOU REGRET!!

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Medha Deb