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Child sex abuse: Counsellors, psychologists on how to make your kid more careful

We speak to child psychologists on how one can go beyond the topic of good touch and bad touch to make them more aware about sexual abuse.

more lifestyle Updated: Oct 11, 2017 18:55 IST
Naina Arora
In most cases of sexual crimes against children, the perpetrators are known to them or have easy access to them.
In most cases of sexual crimes against children, the perpetrators are known to them or have easy access to them. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Your children are not safe. Anywhere. That’s the scary truth reinstated by the recent news of a six-year-old girl being allegedly raped in the washroom of a South Delhi private school, by a member of the housekeeping staff. In most cases of sexual crimes against kids, the perpetrators are known to them or have easy access to them. Sure, we teach children about good touch and bad touch. But is that enough? We ask experts and psychologists about what more can be done.

As a preventive measure to tackle child sexual abuse, “UNICEF has recommended that we talk about safe and unsafe touch,” says Dr Shelja Sen, a Delhi-based child psychologist and family therapist. “Kids need to be taught that if a person touches them or forces them to touch him or her, or asks/threatens them to not tell anyone, it’s an unsafe touch. Children need to be made aware that when someone tries to show them something or say anything to them that they feel uncomfortable about, they need to inform their parents about it,” adds Sen.

Dr Anil Sethi, also a Delhi-based psychologist, says it’s important that kids don’t keep secrets from parents. “If anybody says it’s our secret, don’t do that. Give children the example of a butterfly, on how it flies away when anyone touches it.Tell your kids that their safe circle comprises immediate family.”

Gurgaon-based child psychologist Dr Anupama Verma emphasises on an open dialogue between parents and kids. “We tell our children to not to speak to strangers, but do we tell them that a rapist can be anyone, or the signs to identify a rapist. Also, we tell these things to a girl, and not to a boy. There should be no gender discrimination. When we speak to our children, we must ensure that the child is not fearful. Parents often ask their kids on how their day was, by enquiring about food and friends. They should also ask if somebody touched them inappropriately,” says Verma, who adds that when selecting a school, it’s imperative to check if it has a psychologist or counsellor facility for kids, and if awareness classes for kids and staff — including peons, conductors, cleaners — are conducted regularly or not.

Going beyond this, you can focus on your kids’ emotional and spiritual evolution, too. A spiritual therapist and founder of Blessed Kids Club, Rhea Chopra teaches emotional intelligence to kids through workshops. She says, “It’s important for them to know of good energy and bad energy. Everything is energy, and we attract events as per what frequency we are at. We need to build an energetic gateway rewiring their mind with positive affirmations and open discussions, and teach our kids how to shield themselves energetically to thwart the negative influences in their environment.”

But, the biggest challenge remains the need to initiate a dialogue. Charu Seth, child and adolescent counsellor of an online portal, Your Dost, says, “Parent-child interaction needs to increase, and parents have to be more responsive and approachable to the child so that the child feels confident to talk to them about anything under the sun. We need to strengthen the safety shield around the child by teaching him /her to handle unpleasant situations by saying no and screaming for help.”

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