Child abuse is a complex phenomenon, encompassing physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment of children. It is prevalent, but not talked about much. Many cases of offences, particularly sexual abuse—including incest, and molestation—go unreported. Worse still is the fact that most offenders are people known to the victims. Child abuse is more than bruises or bumps. The signs are subtler, and difficult to ascertain.
Two incidents of students being allegedly molested and abused—within school premises—had rocked Gurgaon last year; and as a result, the police adopted a “zero-tolerance policy” against child abuse in schools. But what about the incidents that go unreported?
Role of mothers
As parents, especially mothers, it is imperative that your child shares a relationship wherein he/she feels free to confide in you—without inhibition, or fear of retribution. Mothers have to make sure that children are not left unsupervised, and in potentially dangerous situations.
Manisha Sharma, a resident of DLF Phase-III, and a mother of two daughters, says that she shares a friendly relationship with her daughters. She teaches them to distinguish between proper and improper touch. She encourages them to confide in her, particularly if they feel uncomfortable with tight hugs, inappropriate touches, or even dirty looks.
Talk to the child
Often mothers avoid talking about sexual abuse; more so, when a relative is involved. The outcome is that the children quietly suffer the ordeal. There is a feeling of guilt in approaching topics related to sexual offence. This notion makes children believe that it is not right to talk about such issues; even if they are going through a traumatic experience in their lives.
If your child is facing any kind of uncomfortable situation, it is imperative for mothers to avoid denial, to remain calm, and to not start interrogating the child. It is very important to let the child feel safe and secure. Reassure the child that he/she has done nothing wrong.
Most schools these days have counsellors, who educate and encourage children to share their feelings. Children who are victims of sexual crimes at a tender age, grow up with complex personality disorders. The agony of silently bearing the abuse, and the guilt associated, leaves an indelible impression on their minds.
A Few Myths
Myth 1: Sexual abuse is violent.
In fact sexual abuse could be inappropriate touching, embracing, or even vulgar gestures.
Myth 2: Bad people abuse children.
Not all abusers are bad, but they could be suffering from mental conditions; or could have been abused as a child.
Myth 3: Abusers are strangers.
On the contrary, most child abusers are known, and could be family members or acquaintances.
Myth 4: Sexual abuse does not happen in
A child could be sexually violated anywhere, and not necessarily in bad neighbourhoods.
To see our kids bloom into confident young individuals, and not wilt under the guilt pangs of being sexually violated in any way, it is crucial that they share a friendly relationship with parents, especially mothers.