Monday, Sep 22, 2014

Why talking about sexuality is important to combat child sexual abuse

New Delhi | Posted: July 27, 2014 1:00 am

child-abuse-main

By Kiran Manral

Child Sexual Abuse or CSA is something that exists all around us, yet we don’t speak about it. We pretend it does not exist, putting away unpleasant memories from our own childhoods into suitcases of the mind, telling ourselves that if we don’t discuss it, it will not exist anymore. That doesn’t happen. It gets worse.

I remember chatting with a friend from college, and the discussion veered, I don’t know how, to an incident of CSA she had faced at the hands of her maternal uncle. She was barely eight or nine when it happened. At 18, she was still haunted by the memory.

“Did you tell your parents about it?” I asked her. “I did tell my mother,” she replied, “but she hushed me up, told me I was imagining things, and to not speak of it again. I never spoke of it again, not even when it continued well into my teens. Finally, when I gathered the courage and refused to cooperate, he guilt tripped me, told me I was a willing participant, that I had wanted it, had enjoyed it, and that I would never be able to get married if I spoke about it.” She did eventually fall in love and got married. But I don’t know if she ever told her husband about it. Or if she did, how he reacted to the disclosure, because most of us have no clue how to handle CSA disclosures. My friend’s mother, for instance, insisted on sweeping it under the carpet. This resulted in the abuse continuing for years after the disclosure.

Sadly, a minuscule percentage of children who are abused gather the courage to talk about it. And when they are faced with disbelief or the lack of willingness on the part of the adult they have confided into, they clam up. Handling disclosure is important, but before we get to that, we need to sensitise our children about CSA. Here is where sex education plays a vital role.

A child who is educated about the biological facts of life will have a higher chance of realising when he or she is being manipulated by a CSA perpetrator. I remember reading an online interview of a convicted serial pedophile in the US. He said, rather chillingly, “Give me a child who knows nothing about sex and you’ve given me my next victim.” This does not mean that you need to tell children everything about sex, but they need to know about their bodies. We need to think of it as basic personal safety measure, like we would think of traffic or fire or electricity safety rules.

If, as a parent or an adult, a child confides in you, don’t react with denial, disbelief or anger. Listen to the child, assure him or her that you take his or her words to be true and that you will do everything in your power to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Most importantly, never confront continued…

comments powered by Disqus
Featured ad: Discount Shopping
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 981 other followers