Child sexual abuse: Why listening to your child, teaching them 'good touch, bad touch' is important

In most cases, the perpetrators are people known to the victims, say an uncle, a neighbor, or even a family member.

By Sri Lakshmi Muttevi  Published on  1 Feb 2022 3:16 AM GMT
Child sexual abuse: Why listening to your child, teaching them good touch, bad touch is important

One in every three girls and one in every eight boys is sexually abused in India. In most cases, the perpetrators are people known to the victims, say an uncle, a neighbor, or even a family member. This is the reason why the victim is embarrassed to address the situation, says an expert. Following the death of a 14-year-old girl in Vijayawada who died by suicide after she was allegedly sexually abused by a 50-year-old neighbour, there has been a growing concern about such incidents of teen suicides.

Speaking to NewsMeter, Dr. Purnima Nagaraja, a consultant mental health professional and therapist, Dhrithi Wellness clinic, explained some of the reasons why children who are exposed to sexual abuse are put under such trauma. "The reason why children don't tell anyone (about the abuse) is that some of them don't know what it is and they can't describe it. When they realize that they were sexually abused, the trauma is horrible," she explained.

Another reason, she pointed out, is that a lot of parents are not listening to their children. In the current situation, both parents have to work to support their family and everybody is busy working and the pandemic has only made life worse. "Even if the children tell them about what they are going through, victim-blaming is very common. The comfort that the parents are giving to their children is absent," she added.

According to Dr. Nagaraja, the accused "groom" the victims, getting them accustomed to their touch, sexual talk, and the sexual abuse. The victim doesn't even know whether it is right or wrong. "In some cases, the saddest and scariest thing is that people who are being abused think it is love. When someone comes from an orthodox family, their parents restrict everything, wanting their child to be perfect. The victim who is being abused feels that is love because they get a treat after they are abused," she said. Sometimes, the abusers threaten the victims about informing their parents and that makes the victims afraid. They fear they will be blamed.

When speaking about the fear among teens when they go through such incidents, Dr. Nagaraja said the fear of disclosure or fear of being punished can make the victim go through a lot of stress. "At the age of 14, the girl wouldn't know anything. A lot of people say when the child knows why can't she tell? Doesn't a 14-year-old know what she is doing? But the fact is, at 14 years she is below the age of consent and she does not know. In many cases, children are afraid and confused," she added.

While it is mandatory for schools to talk about 'good touch, bad touch', not many schools are really following this. Dr. Nagaraja said that every school must have a counselor to talk about issues students face in their lives. Regular training programmes should be conducted for teachers and other staff. Sometimes, children are abused while going back home in public transport. The children should be equipped with the knowledge and parental counseling is important, she added.

Internet abuse is also a growing issue among many teens. Known or unknown people are asking children to send their photos online. There are so many children who don't even know but send their pictures to strangers.

It is important for parents to interact with their children. Most parents are strict and force their children to do what they ask. In such cases, children have no platform to communicate with their parents and express their problems. They don't feel that their issues can be accepted, explained Dr. Nagaraja.

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