When a parent from Juhu taught her six-year-old child to use the exact names for his genital, he was reprimanded by his school teacher when he once used the term in class, said the parent. “My son’s teacher was offended and made him feel like it was not alright to talk about his body,” said the parent, while speaking at the recent conference of Association of Early Childhood Education Development.
The conservative attitudes of teachers or parents proscribing the mention of genitals make it difficult for children to report sexual abuse, said experts. “If we do not talk about it to children, they will not know how to describe it if they go through an instance of sexual abuse later,” said Dr Samir Dalwai, developmental pediatrician, New Horizon Child Development Centre, Goregaon. “A parent had once asked me how to describe rape to a six-year-old boy. I told her to describe it as anything done against the wishes of a girl or a woman. This will help the child understand the meaning as well as give a message without getting into too much technicality.”
Some parents prefer to educate their children using nicknames. Bandra resident Bindu Corriea, a mother of a nine-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy, said, “I use nicknames for their private parts. I have taught them safe and unsafe touches.”