Teaching children about ‘sexual abuse’ | #childabuse | #children | #kids

Dr Rajan Bhonsle

Pronounced as India’s top sexologist by India Today, Professor Dr Rajan Bhonsle, MD, is a senior sex therapist and counsellor from Mumbai, practicing for more than 35 years. LESS

An anxious mother once called me. She was disturbed watching her four-year-old daughter playing ‘Doctor-Doctor’ with her five-year-old visiting nephew. Their game involved showing each other their private parts and touching each other. She was scared for her daughter, as she thought this behaviour could entail ‘sexual abuse’.

Many parents get bothered and tend to overreact when they see such behaviour. At such times, reactionary heavy-handed reprimanding is not the right way to deal with such a situation. It need not be even interpreted as some immoral behaviour, nor it suggests possibility of developing any promiscuity in the future.

Most often, just the presence of a responsible adult may be sufficient to halt or cut short such a play. With children as young as four, five or even six, it is not very difficult to distract them and direct their attention to another interesting activity, without raising any alarm and making a big deal out of it! Subsequently at more opportune time, a parent can very well sit down with the child and talk to him or her on this subject.

It is not difficult to explain that even though you quite understand his or her curiosity in each other’s bodies, she is now getting to be a grown-up girl and all the people are largely expected to keep their bodies covered with clothes in the presence of other people. This way you can set limits without making the child feel guilty or ashamed.

This also is the correct age to start educating children about appropriate and inappropriate touch. Tell the child that you really care for her and you would like to know about anything that could ever make her feel awkward, odd or uncomfortable. Clarify that she has every right to her ‘privacy’ and that her body is her own. Explain that no one has a right to expose her or touch her in a way that feels odd, unusual or strange.

It is also necessary to tell the child that if anyone ever undresses her or touches her in a manner that feels unusual or strange, she should tell that person assertively to stop it at once, and then report the incident to you as a parent as soon as possible.



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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