It has been an year since the horrific rape of a 6-year-old girl at Vibgyor High School in Bangalore. More incidents have been reported in the country since then. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 12,363 cases of alleged child rape were reported in 2013, compared with 8,541 in 2012, a whopping increase of 45 percent! Horrifying isn’t it?
It is traumatic for anyone to know these statistics. But reality is what it is. In spite of having strong laws against child molestation in our country, there are many children who fall prey to sexual abuse. The above statistics are only about the cases which have been reported, there are many children who suffer silently.
How safe are your children? Is there something you can do to protect them?
Here are few tips for you to protect your child from potential sexual abuse.
1. Educate Your Child About Sexual Abuse In Age-Appropriate Terms
Talk openly to your child about sexuality; let children understand that they can talk to you when they have questions or concerns. Teach children about their body parts and talk to them about people who can take advantage of them.
Tell them about ‘good touching’ and ‘bad touching.’ Talk to them about sexuality and abuse in casual conversations rather than having a one-time talk only.
2. Teach Them To Say ‘No’
Children should be told that, if someone tries to touch them in ways that make them uncomfortable, they should say ‘No’ to them and immediately do their best to get away from them and seek a responsible adult. It’s okay if it is not polite. Your child’s safety is paramount, not the feelings of an older person who is most likey triying to take advantage of your child. Similarly, they do not have to be quiet if they do not like how a person makes them feel. And children do know which situations they do like and do not like. Make your child feel stronger by teaching them self-protection and by creating awareness about other ways to handle such situations.
3. Be Available – Ask Them To Inform You Immediately If Someone Bothers Them
Always be there for your children and spend time with them. Tell them to immediately inform you if someone tries to approach them in a manner that seems dangerous. Do not ignore your child’s complaints with regard to situations like these, immediately act on them. There’s a chance that some complaints might be unfounded, but that is a chance you have to take. The worst thing you can do is let your child think that you do not care or are not bothered. Let your child know that you will always support him/her and that the child can rely on you for help.
4. Make Them Aware Of ‘Stranger Danger’
Talk to your child about people who can take advantage of them. Help your children to be more aware of their personal safety, by letting them know simple safety tips like always staying in a group, ignoring strangers and people who try to offer them gifts, sweets etc. Ask your child to always keep you informed about where they are going after their school (to play, friend’s home etc) and be aware of where they are at all times. If you find people lurking around areas where children are playing or present, report their presence to the nearest police station or better still confront them yourself.
IMPORTANT NOTE – One must be wary of strangers. But even more important, with regards to children, one must also be wary of all the close adults in their life. As depressing as this statistic is, a lot of child abuse cases are perpetrated by adults who know the children well and have easy access to them. It might be a family friend, a family member or even an adult who teaches the child. When the abuse is perpetrated by someone close to the child and the child lets you know about, it is your duty as a parent or a guardian to confront the person and take necessary action. You owe it to the child in your care.
5. Know Your Child’s Life
Be involved in your children’s lives and spend time with them whenever possible. Be friendly with your children and get to know from them about the people they meet at school and spend time with. Be interested in your child’s activities and know the trusted adults in your child’s life other than you. Children whose parents are neglectful tend to be more vulnerable to predators.
6. Do Background Checks On Your Child’s School
Before you choose a school for your child, do background checks on the school and make sure that the school does not have any previous records of child abuse or any other crimes concerning the safety of children. Later on, you can visit the school and give your suggestions to improve the safety
standards of the school. Find out how they vet their own employees and if they have any policies in place regarding sexual abuse.
7. Check For Provisions At School To Make Molestation Complaints
Make sure that there is provision to make molestation complaints at your child’s school. If not, force the school into having one through the parent-teachers association. Also ask them to form an anti-child abuse committee comprising of teachers and parents, to whom children can make a complaint too in any case of abuse and as can parents.
8. Examine Your Access To Your Child’s School
Know your child’s school, check if the administration is parent-friendly and allows your involvement in framing of school policies and procedures. Talk to your child’s teachers and trainers frequently and know more about school policies for children’s safety.
9. Remember That Children Are Not Responsible For The Abuse They Face
In case of any sexual abuse, parents have an important role in helping their child recover. Do not blame yourself or your child for the abuse. Spend more time with your child, reassure them and support them and most important of all, love them. Let your child talk about how they feel, at their own pace and do not in any case, shame them for what has occurred. The fault was not with them. It was with the abuser. It might be prudent to talk to a children’s psychologist or a family therapist to deal with traumatic incident better.
Also keep in mind that the statistics mentioned at the beginning of the article are only cases which have been reported to the National Crime Records Bureau. That too, the cases which have been reported might only constitute 25% of the actual child rapes going on in the country. The fact that an alarming 75% of child rapes go unreported means that the situation is a lot more worse than we think it is.
Please share your suggestions or opinions with us in the comments section below with regards to the other things parents can do to keep their children safe.