Today, child molestation and physical abuse are so very rampant. Every other day we get to hear stories about a child being molested or touched inappropriately. What’s more, children who fall prey to this are normally below six years of age. They are too young and innocent to know the difference between right and wrong because the abuser is generally someone known to them and the family.
Therefore, while it is a terrible subject to talk about, parents must get out of their ‘discomfort’ zone and educate their children about this issue to keep them safe and sound.
What is good touch and bad touch?
Good touch: A touch that makes a child feel secure, cared for and happy. For example a mother hugging a child or a grandparent kissing their child or a doctor examining a child. Any touch that makes the child happy or secure is a good touch.
Bad touch: A touch that makes a child uncomfortable, afraid or nervous is a bad touch. The child will not feel safe with a bad touch. For example, if an adult touches your child and tells him or her not to tell anyone, or if your child feels very uncomfortable when kissed or touched, then it’s a bad touch.
How can you teach your children about good touch and bad touch?
Given below are seven suggestions on how you can teach your child about this topic.
- Tell your children that only they own their bodies, no one else. Teach your child that no one has the right to touch them if they don’t want to be touched. Tell them that certain parts of their body are private. Children as young as two years old understand that some body parts are private. Only Mum and Dad or someone parents have appointed can touch them there while bathing or cleaning them. No one else can touch them, if they don’t want to be touched.
- Give the swimsuit example: Explain to your child that the parts of his or her body that are covered by a swimsuit are extremely private. So, no one should ever touch him or her there. Despite this, if it happens, he or she should report it to you or to the school teacher so that action is taken.
- Teach them to say NO: Explain to your child that they have the right to tell someone not to touch them or some parts of their body. They can say ‘No’. Even if it is some is trying to hug or kiss them and they feel uncomfortable or afraid, they can say ‘No’.
- Talk to them in a casual and easy manner: While this is a serious topic, try to keep the conversation casual so that the child is comfortable talking about it. Use everyday events to introduce the topic. For example, introduce this topic when you are having dinner, or giving your child a bath.
- Tell them about good touch and bad touch: Explain to your child that a good touch will never make them uncomfortable or afraid but a bad touch will. Teach them to run away if someone tries to touch them inappropriately or if they feel scared or insecure.
- Use books or videos to explain: Now a days there are many good books and videos available on this topic. Books contain good illustrations making it easy to explain and understand. Videos on this topic are also freely available on YouTube. Use these resources to explain things in a much simpler and easier manner to your child.
- Teach them to run away: If a child feels threatened by someone, they should run away from that place as soon as they can and try not to be near that person again. Also teach them that it’s ok to confide in their parents or teachers or scream for help.
While you teach your children to stay safe, you should also be on your guard always. Look for the following signs:
- Is an individual invading your child’s privacy? Does that person come home only when the kid is around?
- Is someone forcibly hugging or cuddling a child though the latter may protest?
- Is someone spending more time with kids than adults?
- Is someone trying to get closer to kids by buying them expensive gifts?
- Is your child feeling uncomfortable being anywhere near someone?
If you suspect something, remove the child from that environment or person immediately. Also, always ask your child how their day went. They should be able to confide in you. Assure them that you will listen to them no matter what. Your child should be able to trust you and share anything with you.
All parents want their children to be safe and well at all times. Since parents cannot expect their children to always be surrounded by good people, it is the parent’s responsibility to teach them to be ready to handle such situations if they are ever faced with one.