A few days ago, I was talking with a mother who has 5 years old male child. We were talking about the usual developmental growth of a child. At a certain point, she suddenly dropped her voice and asked me,"She heard that a male child also can be abused sexually!" She asked me for confirmation. When I responded positively to her question, she became worried and showed her wonder about the process.
Firstly, we need to define 'good touch' and 'Bad touch'. It is important to educate your child about their private parts. In general, a girl has four different private areas, like her lips, chest, genital area and anal area. On the hand, a boy also has private parts like a girl except chest area. You can help your child to identify a trusted person whose are permitted to touch them, like mother, father and siblings. A maid and doctor can touch with the presence of parent's .Whenever they experienced that any person who is trying to touch his or her private parts in absence of their trusted persons, this referred as "bad touch". This situation indicate that the personis not even "securedone" and she/he should take proper initiative to protect herself.
Next part is, if unfortunately, they face this kind of incident, then how they can protect themselves? You can teach them in following ways:
l First of all, let them know about bad touch, and it's not their fault. The abuser is the ultimate faulty person, not he or she. Talk with your child frankly and boldly, otherwise your suspicious conversation style willgive them an indication to hide their pain
l Tell themto run from this place
l He/she can shout
l Teach your child at least 2-3 phone numbers (trusted persons). If they felt that they are in danger, they may have allowed to call them at any time.
In our society, sometimes parents or other family members holds some kind of beliefs about sexual abuse. For example:
l If parents being open up with their children, their kids will be more advanced and it will increase the rate of sexual abuse.
l If parents raised their voice against child abuse, society will not accept them as a normal family. Eventhey may consider this child as a sinner one.
l Unfortunately, so many female caregivers think that abuse is just an incident not a purposeful act. Even if theirchild complained, they treat this as general issues and their child should not be felt discomfort.
l Another unfortunate situation arises in case of a male child. Most of the time, it is being unreported. Many of us still cannot think that it is possible to happen, whereasthe statistics showed an opposite scenario.
l In terms of adolescent child, some of the guardian's beliefs that their child must have showed some interest to the abuser.Even sometimes blaming the child to go alone in a place.
l Some of the parents claimed that they were being punished to not hear their advice.
There are many of us whose holding this kind of beliefs which has no validity. Think! Whether this beliefs really going to protect your child ever!
Now, the question is there any warning signs of sexually abuse? May be your child cannot verbalize but they must have done some kind of purposeful behaviors to knock you. Please keep in mind that any single sign is not indicated child abuse! Some common physical indicators are pain, itching, bleeding, swelling in the genital or anal area, blood in the childs's underwear, maybe child complains about headaches and sickness. The child may also show some behavioral indicators, like having nightmares or other sleep problems without explanation, sudden mood swings, leaves 'clues' which has a chance to raise a discussion on sexual issues, refused to share personal stuff, suddenly has money, toys or other gift without any reason, bed wetting after 4/5 years old, act like an adult, fear of intimacy, talked about any older person frequently and also sometimes they became clingier or more avoidant.
These are the general indicators, butthe most important thing is your usual relationship with your child. It is very much important to give your child proper acceptance to share anything with their caregiver. This comfortable relationship will help a victim (child) to feel rescued from that fearful unwanted event.
The writer is Assistant Clinical Psychologist, Center for Mental Health and Care.