I read a very disturbing article today. It was about an innocent 4 year old getting physically abused by her 17 year old cousin under the pretext of childish games. The girl was innocent, but the boy was not. She didn’t understand things, and hence complied on the temptation of chocolates and ice creams. It just reiterates the fact that 8 out of 10 children who are abused know their abusers who are either their family members or friends.
When my daughter was born, this was the one thing I knew I had to take care of. Even as a newborn, I didn’t change her before her teenage cousins and male domestic helps. My family members thought I was weird and paranoid. I didn’t rise to the bait, and I didn’t change my ways either. Whenever I am visiting my family, I make sure that my daughter doesn’t go out or stay alone with her elder cousins. My parents and in laws feel bad about the situation, but I don’t budge. I don’t care about these feelings; I have got something more important at stake – my daughter’s innocence and life. The best part is my husband supports me too.
It’s not the first incident, and won’t be the last. The onus is on the parents to keep their child safe and secure at all times. Keep in mind these few things:
- Talk to your child regularly about how his/her private parts are not to be touched by any other apart from her mother/caregiver.
- Explain to your child that he/she is neither supposed to touch anyone’s private parts nor let anyone touch theirs.
- Encourage your child to speak freely about his/her sentiments.
- Don’t change your child’s clothes or give him/her a bath before male family members.
- Don’t let your little child play alone or go out alone with a male cousin/brother, an uncle or a neighbour.
- Do not let your elder son (more than 10 years) share the bedroom with your little daughter.
- Apprise the senior members of your family of the child abuse cases; so they don’t stay in their ignorant bubble and learn what’s happening in the world.
Note: Doctor-Doctor is a game that has a scope of illegit touching and feeling. Don’t encourage this or such games in your absence.
If your child has lost his/her appetite or is feeling listless, scared and withdrawn, talk to her/him. Don’t scold, but try to draw out the story in a gentle manner. If a family member or friend is indeed involved, take up the matter with your family. Nothing, I mean nothing or no one is more important than your child’s innocence and mental and physical health.