The good touch and bad touch talk: How do you talk to your child about them? | The Financial Express

The good touch and bad touch talk: How do you talk to your child about them?

A study by the Government of India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development found that over 50% of the children reported being sexually abused at some point in their life.

The good touch and bad touch talk: How do you talk to your child about them?
The difference between good touch and bad touch starts with educating the child about normal sexual encounters. (Photo source: Pixabay)

By Neha Jain, 

One of the demons we face in society today is Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA). As alien and drastic as it sounds, CSA is more common than many would like to believe. It is defined as any unwanted sexual contact with a minor, which may include inappropriate touching, showing pornographic content, or sexual advances. A study by the Government of India’s Ministry of Women and Child Development found that over 50% of the children reported being sexually abused at some point in their life.

Both boys and girls were impacted by some form of CSA, and usually, the perpetrator was someone the survivor trusted.  In addition to knowing about the prevalence rate of CSA, it is essential to be aware of the emotional trauma that such an experience inflicts on the child. It affects the relationships and worldview the child forms and carries throughout her/his life. So, it is imperative that parents educate their children about childhood sexual abuse. But considering the topic’s sensitivity, it’s essential to know how to approach your kid with the Good Touch and Bad Touch talk.

Central messaging

The difference between good touch and bad touch starts with educating the child about normal sexual encounters. The message to the child should be that the genitals, buttocks, chest, and mouth are considered private, and any “touch” that is uncomfortable shouldn’t be allowed. It is also important to tell the child the difference between a mother kissing them or touching them while giving them a bath and someone else doing this, as the child often misperceives such advances as acts of expressing love or affection.

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The child should be told how to handle it if such a situation occurs, with the priority being escape. They can scream or make a loud noise and run away. It is important to tell the child that it is imperative to tell someone about the incident and assure them that you would support them if they were to reveal such an incident. If your child tells you about any such experience, assure them that it isn’t their fault by demonstrating the difference between an adult’s capacity to initiate and the child’s capacity to resist abuse.

Tell the child about biological arousal, pleasure from stimulation and consent. They must know that feeling aroused or even pleasure is common. It does not mean that the abuse was justified or that they are responsible for it since children may feel guilty for experiencing pleasure involuntarily.

Make sure the conversation is age appropriate

It is essential to educate your child about sex before you speak to them about sexual abuse and inappropriate touch. However, to not overwhelm the child, the information provided should be age sensitive. For instance, by the age of 5, the child should know the right names of all their body parts. Calling genitals by names other than those assigned to them carries with it the risk of conveying to the child that it is something to be ashamed of or something about which conversation cannot happen. By the age of 10, the child should know about copulation, menstruation, and pregnancy. While discussing sexual partners and sex, it is important to be sensitive about issues of homosexuality, bisexuality, asexuality, and queerness. It is best to read about the sexual spectrum before broaching the subject.

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Choose the medium of telling carefully

Along with the theme of the conversation, you must consider how and when you speak to the child. Firstly, ensure that the child is emotionally ready and receptive. Avoid talking to the child before bed or after meals, as the child may be sleepy or groggy and not in a state to absorb what is being spoken.  With younger children, storytelling or animated videos are an excellent way to convey the message. Be open to follow-up questions and assure them that you will be there if they need you.

Bottom line

Acknowledging the fact that childhood sexual abuse is so rampant in the country can be anxiety-provoking and evoke denial. However, predators take advantage of this silence and rely on the lack of knowledge, shame, and guilt experienced by the child, to continue with their abuse. As parents, it is important to be aware of this and protect the child by providing them with knowledge and helping them if they have faced such a situation. Your child should feel free to talk to you about this, and it can be achieved only when the mystery around sex is dismantled. The talk should be focused on educating and providing support, instead of instilling fear. However uncomfortable that you feel the topic is, bear in mind that as parents it is your duty to safeguard your child and shield them from trauma.

(The writer is 
Author at Merlinwand. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)

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