Yesterday, in news that would come as relief to many parents, the Mumbai police finally nabbed the child molestor who had sexually abused 25 children over nine months in different parts of the city. But think before you heave a sigh of relief. With the number of paedophilia cases on the rise, a lot more needs to be done to secure our loved ones.
The first step is to create awareness. Nikhil Mathur, co-founder of parenting site, yowoto.com, that is organising an awareness programme at Podar Jumbo Kids School, on April 19, says that it is essential to follow three steps — understand, prevent and heal.
"The real concern is that we are hiding from CSA under notions like — 'it happens only to poor people', 'it happens mostly to girls', "no one around my child is sick enough to be worried about' — and this is making it increasingly dangerous for our kids," he asserts, adding that awareness helps people make sense of reality.
To stress on the gravity of the situation, Payal Shah Karwa, who has authored, The Bad Touch, a book that talks about true stories of CSA thrivers, puts forth a startling figure — a survey done by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007 proved that over 53% children in India have been sexually abused at least once in their life in some form or the other.
(L-R) Nikhil Mathur and Nikalank Jain, founders, yowoto.com
"A parent's role is extremely crucial in a situation like this. First of all, they must stop living in denial that this cannot happen to their child. Second, their role is very important in preventing sexual abuse from happening to their child by educating their child on this subject," she informs.
Psychiatrist Amit Kulkarni, seconds that parents play an important role in protecting their child; it starts by making the child feel trusted. He spells out that it is of utmost importance that children have faith in the parents because then the child doesn't hesitate to talk about anything including their discomfort with any particular person.
"Usually what children fear about such matters is that they will be held responsible and punished for it. So, if they trust their parents, these problems will come to light easily and early," he suggests.
Signs of abuse
> Change in play behaviour. If a kid starts touching his/her private parts more often and starts asking questions about it or indulges in unusual behaviour.
> Temper tantrums are an important sign. If the child screams or becomes violent when parents touch.
> Withdraws completely, stops talking, or gets scared of the activity that led to it. For example, if the incident took place in the park, the child might refuse to go to the park at all times.
> Accept the fact that CSA is an epidemic: It can happen or may have happened to a loved one.
> Arm yourself with knowledge: The laws, the roles and responsibilities of institutions and professionals in the area.
> Equip your child: Kids must be taught in an age-appropriate language, and in concepts they will understand, ie good and bad touch for young kids (2-6-years-old), and safe and unsafe touch for the older ones (7+ years). Teach kids the don'ts of people behaviour; let them know that their private parts are off-limits to all. Five important words a child must know: STOP, NO and I WILL TELL. Be open to everything your child tells you. Predators thrive on bad parent-child communication. Nip it here.
— Nikalank Jain, co founder, yowoto.com