The news of a six-year old having been sexually abused by her school teachers has shaken the people across the length and breadth of the country. A school, which we consider a child’s second home, is no longer safe for them. But remember, most of the kids are sexually abused in their own homes and by their own family members. A child is not safe even in her own house for that matter. It’s a shocking truth, but the truth nonetheless.

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225 000 000 children are sexually abused each year. The majority of them are under 8 years of age. Isn’t it a depraved world that we live in? But blaming the society or waiting for something untoward to happen to your child won’t do.

While we cannot live in permanent fear or shadow our child everywhere, as a parent, it’s our moral duty and responsibility to be proactive and take care of our kids. Charity begins at home. And in this case, it’d better begin soon.

Here is a list of things you need to teach your child at early age:

  1. Warn your girl child ‘Never’ to sit on anyone’s laps no matter what. If the uncles or aunties are upset, so be it.
  2. Never change or dress up your child in front of strangers, extended family members or house helps. I started this practice when my daughter was just a newborn. It upset many a family members but I gave a hoot. She is my daughter and thus, her safety is my only concern.
  3. Also, this reminds of one another thing. Be particular about the kind of clothes your child wears before people at home or outside. In a playground, make your girl child wear clothes that cover her legs and torso well so that evil eyes are not drawn to her body. When you must make her wear a frock/skirt, make her wear bloomers, cycling shorts or leggings underneath. Also teach your child how to sit and stand when outside or before public eyes.
  4. Living with the child all the time, parents forget that the child is a separate human being and that they see things. Avoid getting dressed in front of your child once he/she is 2 years old. Learn to excuse them or yourself.
  5. Never allow any adult refer to your child as ‘my wife’ or ‘my husband’. I don’t understand what weird game is this?
  6. Whenever your child goes out to play with friends try to find out what kind of play they do, because young people now sexually abuse themselves.
  7. Never force your child to visit any adult he or she is not comfortable with and also be observant if your child becomes too fond of a particular adult.
  8. Once a very lively child suddenly becomes quiet and withdrawn you may need to patiently talk to your child and very cleverly draw out information from her.
  9. In Indian schools, we don’t have a well-established system of parting sex education to pre-teen or teenage kids. So it’s up to the parents to educate with dignity their grownup kids about the right values of sex. If you don’t, the society will teach them the wrong values.
  10. Toddlers and preschoolers are nowadays handling mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. It is always advisable you keep a check on which apps they generally play, websites they visit or YouTube videos they watch.
  11. Go through any new material like cartoons or story books you just bought for them before they start seeing or reading it themselves.
  12. Ensure you activate parental controls on your cable networks and advice your friends especially those your child visits often.
  13. Teach your 3 year olds how to wash their private parts properly and warn them never to allow anyone touch those areas and that includes you. When my child turned 2 and started attending a preschool, I explained to her who was allowed to touch her private parts and if anybody apart from the list touched her, she was supposed to shout ‘NO’ and run away. And tell mama all about it.
  14. When your child turns old enough to understand; introduce the subject of good touch-bad touch to them.
  15. Blacklist some materials/associates you think could threaten the sanity of your child (this includes music, movies and even friends and family members).
  16. Communicate regularly with your child. Let your child know that he/she is always welcome to come to you and talk about sex-related subjects. If something untoward has happened to her or around her, there is no shame in confiding to you.
  17. Once your child complains about a particular person, don’t keep quiet about it. Take up the case and show them you truly love them and can defend and fight for them.It’s time we stop skirting the issue of child sexual abuse or feeling ashamed of it. Our kids deserve better than this. Remember, we can choose to protect our child now or live to regret forever.