Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

‘Teaching about ‘bad touch’ not enough to prevent child sex abuse’

12th January 2019, 03:50 Hrs

Aliya Abreu   

Panaji

Teaching your child the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch” is no longer good enough to prevent your child from being sexually abused, shared Ashwini NV, director of Mukhta Foundation in Bangalore, who has worked with victims of child sexual abuse (CSA).   

She explained that while parents still taught their kids about “bad touch”, child abusers often used methods, in the early stages of abuse, that did not involve physical touch.

These methods could be visual forms like forcing a child to watch pornography, or to undress while the abuser watched, exposing genitals to the child and so on. Physical abuse may come later, but by this time, the abuser may have already pushed the child into silence by threats.   

The Bangalore-based psychologist said, “When we ask children why they didn’t report the abuse from the beginning, they tell us that there was no bad touch involved at the beginning, so they didn’t realise they had to report it.”

Ashwini also spoke of the problem of teaching children to “beware of strangers,” as in most cases, the abuser was known to the child.   

Speaking of how to know if a child was being abused, she said, “Just 2.5 % of children will tell you verbally that they are being abused. But there are other signs they will give you.” 

These include inappropriate engagement with toys, or suddenly speaking less than usual, sudden nightmares or sleeping problems, sudden outbursts of anger, or if the child starts thinking of his/her body as “dirty”, along with a host of other sings.   

Ashwini however urged parents not to be paranoid about CSA, but to observe carefully. She said if a parent suspected anything, to ask the child gently to open up, if not right away, then on a later date, with a fixed deadline. She also warned about not being blinded by myths of CSA like “only girls are abused”, or “women cannot be abusers.”   

She was giving a talk on “Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse” at Dhempe College as part of Mukhta’s nation-wide campaign to create awareness on child safety.