Child abuse can taint a kid’s life in more ways than one can imagine. As elders, here’s how we can play a part in protecting children.
By Dr Kaushik Murali
Every week, we read about a child being abused. Angry, worried, we wish someone could have prevented this. As caregivers of children, each one of us can be the difference and play a part to prevent abuse.
Understand the problem
A child is any person under the age of 18. Abuse can range from physical, emotional, sexual to even neglect. Child Sexual Abuse is any act using a child for sexual gratification. It can be physical, visual or verbal in nature. A majority of abusers are known to the child.
Look for early signs
Physical injuries or unexplained bruises are almost a giveaway. Look out for behavioural changes of anxiety, even bedwetting or irrational fear of dark and stranger anxiety. Psychological changes in eating, sleeping or communication should trigger suspicion.
Play Your Part
In the short term, create a caring environment. Teach the child to name his / her private parts and the importance to cover the same. Body boundary is important. The child should know that the body belongs to them and no one can hug, kiss or touch them without their permission. They also are responsible to keep their body clean and hygienic. The children need to map their circle of trust. These would be five names for each finger of their hand that they list as persons they can confide in.
NO – GO – Tell
This is a mantra every child must be taught. Teach them to say “No” loudly and clearly; they do this when they are uncomfortable, then encourage them to immediately “Go” to a place they feel safe in and then “Tell” what happened to one of their trusted people.
In the unfortunate event that a child tells you about a possible abuse, first reinforce that they understand it is not their fault. Understand the rules of POCSO, the child protection Act that ensures anonymity of the child and looks to fast-track the process. A child can also call the Childline and report it or go online.
The future of India lies in our children and it is up to us to ensure that we are aware enough to detect and prevent abuse and also provide an environment of trust and safety for our children to grow.
(The writer is Member, National Governing Council, Young Indians. Masoom is an initiative of CII Young Indians that aims to eliminate child abuse through creating awareness.)