Thursday, April 7, 2011

CSAAM- Good touch, bad touch and sexually abusive touch

As a mom of a 7 yr old, a part of parenting I’ve not given much thought to is child sexual abuse. I guess because I think of it as something that could NEVER happen in MY home. I certainly know that I pray for it to NEVER happen in MY home. But its something that’s been on my mind for sure. Especially since I leave my son at home with the maid for at least 2 hours (used to be more earlier) totally unchaperoned.
All I’ve told him is that he shouldn’t walk around naked in front of her, that she needn’t wash his bum after potty and that she doesn’t need to touch him , and if he doesn’t want it, he should tell her NO.

And then along came Kiran and Monica with their idea of doing something for/against Child Sexual Abuse. And that was when I really put my mind to what to tell my son. About sexual abuse. And when I started researching .....

This site on Good Touch/Bad Touch has loads and loads of sensible stuff on their website, starting with educating the child/adults on CSA, to helping him/her and parents/caregivers deal with it and take steps to lessen the trauma it delivers to the child's psyche. I found what they had to say on educating the child on good, bad and sexually abusive touch really informative, to me as well.

The first step to helping a child fight sexual abuse is making the child aware of it, and helping him/her to identify it. And that means talking to the child about good touch and bad touch. And sexually abusive touch. So the child knows what to tell his parent/guardian about, if God forbid, abuse happens.
Tulir uses the words safe and unsafe touch as well, so that the words good/bad don't lead to confusion or leave a stigma even unknowingly.

Good/Safe touch -
-Most touches- parents, siblings, relatives, known adults etc- would fall under this head. They make the child feel happy, loved, safe… warm inside and smiley outside. Kids are comfortable and feel reassured with these touches. And incidentally, it is very important for the child to have as many of these good touches so that he/she can differentiate between the good and the other touches. So if you needed an excuse to hug your child, do it NOW. And lots of times.

Bad/Unsafe touch-
- is when the child is physically hurt, and goes Ouch! Bad touches are mostly sudden , and not sly...and are not to be confused with sexually abusive touch. Fighting, bullying etc could lead to bad touch. Examples would be biting, kicking, hitting etc. Bad touch can happen with kids as well, it needn’t necessarily be an adult. Bad touches hurt and certainly do not feel good. Normally, the child reacts to this touch without any confusion- he/she moves away/stays away from this kind of touch automatically.

Sexually abusive/Confusing touch-
- is when the child is forced /tricked into touching private body parts-
key words here being force and trickery.
Force comes into play when the abuser makes the child do something he does not want. Or understand.
Trickery enters the scene when someone asks the child to touch their private body parts, or to allow them to touch the child’s private parts, pretending that it’s a game.. or fools the child into it, or lies to the child for access to private parts.

Sexually abusive touch might make the child feel good, so its important to let the young child who knows nothing bout sex yet, that the touch might not be hurtful, might even feel good, but that if it makes them feel uncomfortable or if they dislike it in any way, then, that touch is not right. Any kind of touch that makes the child feel confused about whether it is good or bad touch needs to be reported to a trusted person.

The child needs to feel secure in the knowledge that his body is his own and no one has the right to touch him if he does not like it. Not even known and liked persons. Not even relatives. Tell the child that it is ok to SAY NO to behaviour and touch they are not comfortable with, especially with relatives. No one- not even parents- needs to take pictures of him/her without underwear.

Tell your child that it needn’t necessarily be strangers… sexual abuse can be encountered from someone they know, like, love and even live with. (in a majority of cases, the offender is someone the child knows...)

Encourage your child to trust his feelings and to talk about it, if he feels confused or uncomfortable with a known adult’s behaviour or talk. They do not need to put up with something that makes them feel bad inside, just because the offender is publicly known to be a ‘good’ person..Sexual abusers are typically wolves in sheep's clothing.

If he and someone are on the computer and a ‘yucky' picture comes up on screen, make sure he knows to get off at once, and tell an adult about it.
Also, if old enough to be allowed to chat on the net, tell them to say NO if someone whom they only know on the net asks them for even normal photographs. Or to meet at a certain place. The matter needs to be discussed with parents/guardians.

Tell your child that it is very important that they TELL A TRUSTED ADULT if someone sexually abuses or hurts them in any way.. It is necessary to, early on, identify these trusted persons the child can confide in, in the event of any such abuse. Tell the child that if one person does not believe them, to go ahead and be brave and tell a second person, or a third... The more people know about it, the less likely it is to get hidden under the carpet.

Tell him/her that while speaking about sexual abuse is very difficult, it will only stop if brought into the open. And tell him/her that it is NEVER TOO LATE to tell someone about the sexual abuse.

Above all, make him believe that the abuse is NOT THE CHILD'S FAULT. It is the abuser’s fault. Make him believe that he/she is still a good kid. The best, in fact. That you still do and will ALWAYS LOVE HIM/HER. No matter what. Forever.


Swati said...

Strong post JLT!! Problem is to effectively get it through their tiny brains without scaring them. I have tried a few times, will post about my trial and error soon

Just Like That said...

I have not old him anything about these touches either, just tried to enforce plain modesty and have left the rest to God.... But after we started this and am reading so much about experiences, was thinking that maybe I need to.... :-(

Mama - Mia said...

excellent post JLT. its not easy to make a child understand without passing on your paranoia or prejudices...

decision decisions! why did we have to grow up?! :)


Team CSAAM said...

Thanks for your post, JLT.