Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Child Sexual Abuse Awareness – Everybody’s Responsibility

This is the first time I am writing on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). I do not have any kids; however, this topic is as close to my heart as any parent. I have nieces and children of close friends and the mere thought of any of them going through CSA makes my blood boil.

It is often wrongly assumed that CSA only affects young girls and that too by men. That may not always be the case. Both young girls and boys are equally at risk by both men and women. It is all a question of who gets familiar with the child in what manner and how they exploit them.

In India, the discussion focussing on sexual awareness is taboo, per se. We do not feel comfortable discussing it with our parents or elders in the family. Whatever information we obtain is as teenagers via the media or our friends. This may not always be accurate or if obtained via wrong means could scar us for life.

In this background, the mere presence of CSA is often brushed under the carpet. We usually adopt the ostrich syndrome and believe that if we ignore what is actually happening, it will disappear. Unfortunately, that is the worst way to deal with it. CSA becomes critically important because children are extremely vulnerable and fragile.

The thing to keep in mind is that CSA could happen anywhere – at home, in school, in the playground, at a relative’s place, etc. if a child musters courage to speak about it, parents are not comfortable discussing the same or may dismiss it thinking it is the child’s imagination. This could make the child withdraw and, in future, if there is a repeat of any such occurrence, s/he would think twice before raising the issue.

I believe creating awareness on CSA is of paramount importance not just for a month but on a continuous basis. I suggest the following ways in which the same could be attempted:

1. Relationship: Parents should never hesitate to discuss anything with their children. In fact, their relationship with their kids should be such that kids should never fear or worry about bringing up cases of CSA, if any.

2. Education: Parents should educate their children about CSA. Things such as a friendly versus an unfriendly touch, who all can touch a child and who cannot, what should the child do if s/he is ever touched by a stranger, list of persons who can be approached by the child if the parents are not around (grandparents, an aunt/uncle, elder brother/sister, etc.) They should also emphasise on the kids that it is not their fault that such a thing has happened to them. There should never be a situation where the parents blame the kid for what has happened.

3. Action: Once parents find out that CSA has happened, they should discuss ways to deal with it. They should speak to the person concerned, if that is possible. If it has happened in a school, they should raise it to the teachers/principal of the school. The perpetrator should be named and shamed so that s/he knows that this action will not be taken lightly.

4. Awareness: Since this is an issue which affects and concerns all of us, it is as much our responsibility to create awareness on a much wider level. Parents can have such awareness sessions in their buildings; the clubs they frequent. Playschools should be encouraged to have such sessions where the teachers can patiently explain to the kids about it. It could also be made a part of the school curriculum where it could be explained with the help of diagrams so that the kids understand better and can identify when CSA is happening.

I hope and believe that with increased awareness we, as a society, are able to better deal with and gradually eliminate the instances of CSA. Statistics make no sense because to a child and his/her family, that one instance of CSA is matters immensely.


Gayathri Manikandan said...

Need of the hour... https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6aH8Rwax09A
This is the best video I have come across so far about explaining sexual abuse to little children. Hope its of use to others...

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