| ‘Experiment and learn’ or ‘Trial and error’ method is quite scientific in its approach especially for children of preschool age . And while something pleasant or unpleasant is happening with them ……. They take time to understand whether that was desirable or was to be avoided. Foundation of ethical behavior too, is to be laid during these initial years of life called childhood.
Dear friends, you all must be wondering why I am talking about such philosophical facts.
Actually, Childhood is the most pliable, soft and sponge like stage of life when good/bad/ugly , all have equal chances of getting absorbed. Simultaneously, this is ‘the age’ when it’s very difficult to offer difficult, rather I should say ,heavy sex-related information to sink in their, yet not matured minds .
Across the world and especially India, child sexual abuse is on all time high.
Mentality of people, especially adults, has been observed to be ‘SICK’ ….. when we hear cases of rape of minors ranging from a few months to few years.
In addition, to our dismay, we find these rapists to be someone in the extended family or in the school or in the vicinity/neighbourhood.
Heart cries and mind aches when we hear reports of rape of young toddlers, preschoolers or primary school children, who haven’t even matured sexually what to say about their mental growth . As soon as something come up in media like in recent past when this type of incident happened in a Bangluru school , lots of discussions start and we see print and tele-media and now social media also to be engaged in hot discussions with pensive or bold statements coming from all sectors - social, political leaders demanding ‘death punishments’ and the like .
It is a tragedy that none wants to derive solutions ……. They only debate to score high among the speakers and to remain in headlines.
Government has its own role and duties. Their strategies might take time but till then ‘WE’ can’t sit idle and just raise hue and cry as and when fresh cases of rapes come into light.
What , as enlightened, responsible citizens, as concerned parents and teachers or guides either as part of any NGO or independently, we must do ……..
We , first and foremost , have a duty towards OUR OWN CHILDREN especially the smaller ones. We have to teach and make them aware of their own body …. Which parts need to be protected from unwanted touch.
In the beginning of my talk, I had mentioned about ‘experiment and learn’ …. Children indulge in various in-house games like ‘House –house’ Doctor-doctor’ like that and in the due course discover their and their friends’ or siblings’ habits and bodies ,too. But this is among children only. The problem crop up when some adults touch them against their wishes. The child, generally, finds herself or himself, in a confusing state ……. Whether it’s normal or abnormal behavior? Whether she or he should restrict the adult? Whether she /he should complaint to the parents ? Whether parents would believe them? Whether they would be treated nicely by parents after knowing the details ?
And dear friends , in this confusion ,small mind of child takes solace in hiding the facts and tolerate the intolerable behavior.
We grown-ups ,have to take this duty religiously on us to be a friend and guide to our small children so that they can , in any situation , come and talk ,gargle our their doubts and worries without an inch of fear or doubt.
We have to teach our children about ‘Good touch or Bad touch’. We need to tell them ………….if someone lures them with a toffee or a gift, what should they do. If someone is a school teacher or supporting staff , someone popular or in high position in village or big town, from lower class or high class, from this nation or from developed nations like UK or US etc. They need not give in to that person in fear of his position. We need to tell them if someone tries to touch their private parts, what should they do. And most importantly, we need to warn them too, about unwanted touch of even well know persons or family friends.
It’s the art of cooking and serving which can make us eat even ‘bitter karelas.’ So, it’s up to us to offer the relevant information in child friendly manner to reach their spongy minds.
Various places at which we have to teach children include:
2.in society ….. like local communities, religious places ( during freedom struggle, too, societal reform movements used to start from here as people from all classes used to come here)
3.in school …. Here these teachings should be made a part of syllabi so that these become a ritual or habit
With the help of big charts…
We have to make them aware of parts of the body where touch by strangers or even by familiar persons should raise an alarm.
Dear friends, it’s a tragedy that the touch which is generally considered a source of comfort and security, has been widely misused to satisfy the sick egos.
Thus , our children need to be told that the parts which are generally covered in their undies (in the pic) in Indian as well as foreign culture ,must not be touched except for by mother during bathing or cleaning or during treatment by the doctor , that too in presence of family members.
Children should understand this in clear terms that “THIS IS THEIR BODY AND NO ONE CAN TOUCH IT WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION”
There are many points on which I would like to talk about but in this write up I would restrict myself to good touch or bad touch and what the child should do in case he or she feels uncanny desires of the person touching them.
In such an unwanted situation……. The child should
1. Raise an alarm by loud shout or crying
2. Run away from that person trying to touch
3.Tell the parents or on whom they have trust as soon as possible
These are small but powerful steps to avoid destroying the trust and identity of the child.
This is not even in the slightest of intention that the person should be allowed to go without punishment. He or she, should be punished in open and out-casted without worrying about ‘what will the society say?’
And dear friends it is very important to teach all this to BOTH GIRLS and BOYS as sexual abuse happens of both and besides making our children aware of these points, we must make them indulge in creative pursuits to divert their attention from these unwanted happenings.
By Poonam Matia
Dated: 2nd Dec 14.