So this morning while sipping morning tea, headline popped on my mobile screen “India sexual abuse: 'Four child victims every hour.” This sent shivers down my spine and made me deeply ponder what disaster India is heading towards. Our little angels are no longer safe in their own motherland. According to study on child abuse published by Ministry of Women and Child Development 53.2% of Indian children are sexually abused. The major reason kids are vulnerable because sex education is something not encouraged in India. It is a taboo. Also interesting to note is that most of time abusers are well known to victim; but their voices are silenced for the fear of the family being torn apart. Voices are either ignored or silenced forever which heavily plays on child’s mental years. Child abuse can alter the personality of child in negative way which can be detrimental for his adult life. Long term impact of sexual abuse can cause depression, anxiety issues, stress, trauma, eating disorders etc. he begins to develop sceptical attitude towards life, feeling that the world is unworthy and unsafe. Victim may feel he/ she has no say or control over their lives. It breaks down child both mentally and physically.
Here is the list to keep your child safe in world where the abuse of minors is a reality:-
1. Read the signs
Every human being has certain unique nature and natural affinities and tendencies. If you notice any change in the behaviour of your kid you have reason to be worried. Abused child can exhibit following spectrum of signs:
- Nightmares or not being able to sleep. Giving up on food and feeling scared all time.
- Refusal to go to school or any sports or art class.
- Low grades and poor performance.
- Irritated and cranky, becoming hyper or startled on small issues.
- Low self – confidence and suicidal tendencies.
- They are sick every time. Don’t feel like playing or nothing interests them.
- Drug or alcohol abuse or inappropriate sexual abuse is common in abused teenagers.
2. Pay heed to them and protect them Don’t just ignore or hush away when they complaint about things like these. Keep vigil eyes for any early warning signs. Keep track of where your child is and with whom. Try to make her/him understand what good and bad touch is. Educate them to shout out loud “NO!” or “STOP!” if they feel anyone is touching them inappropriately. It should be borne into the minds of both parents and child that abuse is not only physical abuse, it can include sexualised talks to child, asking inappropriate questions, showing them obscene pictures or videos. Educate and make them aware about this aspect also. If you are parenting especially abled kid take extra precautions as they are soft targets for these monsters. Listen and be empathetic towards your kids.
3. Report child abuse Child abuse is a very serious issue and one cannot make mistake of giving cold shoulder to as that will encourage perpetrators. Most child abuse and neglect happens behind closed doors and most of cases go unreported. If you witness a child being harmed or see evidence of abuse, make a report to your state's child protective services department or make a complaint to police. When talking to a child about abuse at home, listen carefully, guarantee the child that he or she did the right thing by telling an adult, and affirm that he or she is not responsible for what happened. In case you see child is in potential dander give a call on 911 where you can make report.
The mental state of kid is very delicate and it needs conducive environment to grow to its maximum potential. If God forbid you child has fallen prey to abuse here is steps you can follow for effective healing of kid:
- Instead of raging against perpetrator or losing confidence become a support wall for your kid. This help child bear traumatic experience.
- Let child share every detail of incident.
- Don’t let the sense of guilt, shame, or fear settle in as their mental state is already in turmoil, so don’t add to it. Be supportive and loving.
- Take immediate action with respect to child’s safety by either making complaint to police or if accused is from family removing any direct contact of child with such person.
- Gradually start healing process by taking her out for walks, to their friend’s house, resuming school and extra classes, taking child for mini vacation.
- Consider talking to physiatrist or child therapist.
- Look for legal option to seek justice.
“Stop this silence or else this menace will devour our tiny tots. It has already ravaged and mutilated lives of hundreds and thousands. Speak it up! We owe it to our children.”