Innocence– a natural gift that children have been bestowed upon. Their glittering eyes brimmed with inquisitiveness, zeal to explore, fathomless energy, carefree attitude- wins hearts and today parents worry that it makes them vulnerable too. Crimes against children are increasing at unprecedented pace. We come across at least one story of sexual exploitation (POCSO act) almost every other day. Scary it is becoming with each passing day as both girl and boy child is equally preyed upon. The tiny tots are most vulnerable to this heinous crime. This makes parenting even more challenging.
Childhood is one phase of life that people want to relive, but regretfully it’s just not possible, but today one of prime responsibility upon every parent is that childhood remains so happy and free from any untoward incidents. Having a tete-a-tete with a friend, remembering our childhood memories, how we used to be in school, all the mischievous acts done together, petty things that we hid from parents and confided in a friend. Trusting was so easy and spontaneous. But ironically, the things have changed so much today. As said that a change is always good, perhaps this don’t stand true in this era.
The parenting challenges increase many fold with the kind of lifestyle we are adopting in nuclear families. No grannies rather we are dependent more on nannies (not necessary females) for our little ones. Even schools or other institutes where we send our children for extra- curricular activities are no longer as safe as they used to be when parents no longer worried for them during those hours. All these factors makes it indispensible for parents to teach young children to distinguish between a good and bad touch during their growing years (it would not be wrong to say as early as possible looking at the present scenario).
Any contact, anywhere that makes one feel uncomfortable is a bad touch whilst a contact made in lieu of affection or love that does not make one feel any discomfort is a good touch. Sometime ago, parents usually explained this sensitive issue to children in terms of “bathing suit” principle. I’m sure many of us must have taken up this crucial issue with our children this way. With the “bathing suit” the child is told that no one is supposed to touch the child in the areas covered by the under garments are not supposed to be touched by anyone. This principle or way of explaining children has been well accepted. There are so many jargons used for this like swimming suit principle or undergarment principle or area between upper thigh or diagrammatically showing a child the sensitive area.
But this becomes skewed as the predators that we are trying to keep at bay can be a well known and trusted person. People like them don’t target their ulterior motives straight away. They rather lure children, make them feel comfortable and gain their trust. Our gullible, naive bacha party fall prey to them.
Thus, the strategies need to be moulded.
Tell them stories with the gist that no one has a right to touch their private areas. As soon as the child starts to bath himself or herself even parents are not entitled to touch them there.
Instead of telling them any swimsuit/undergarment rule, make them confident individuals. Be friendly with them so that they can confide in you.
Role play activities are also good ways of conveying and asking them if any person have asked them to hide anything from parents.
Always start this matter in a light hearted way so that the child feels comfortable and can easily share their piece of mind. This way a child can also share if s/he is forced at any point of time.
Give them liberty to choose their way of greeting people it is not necessary to hug a relative if the child do not like or feel comfortable.
Most importantly always remember a parent is the pillar of strength for the children. Support your children. Hear them out.
Please share your way of taking this matter up with your child so that many parents can learn as this is the need of the hour.