It would not be an understatement to say that it is no longer easy being a child. From the day that a child is born, his/her destiny is written by people who gave him life. He/she is not allowed to think in a different way as compared to the way the world has been thinking and would always be answerable to everyone but his/her own conscience. Coupled with that is the fact that, till the time they begin to earn a livelihood, they are never taken seriously, their opinions not considered, their problems are brushed under the carpet. This attitude is exactly what makes them vulnerable to any act that could be called sexual harassment or abuse. We think they are immune to such things because they are well protected by the close knit family system that we love to endorse, but the truth is that it is this very family system that has made them all the more vulnerable. They are never taken seriously when they report abuse, are often accused of lying or are never validated because their perpetrator is someone who is often more powerful than them. We refuse to believe that all we need to do is empower our children from the very beginning and make them believe that no such incident needs to be tolerated and that it was never their fault. Here are some ways to empower your child against sexual harassment.
Sexual Abuse And Parenting
Here’s what you must do to empower and educate your child against sexual abuse, so that nobody tries to manipulate with a child’s impressionable mind:
As a parent, it is advisable that you keep your panic levels under check if your child reports to you about an abusive incident that he or she had to live through. Many a times, such acts are disguised as games, which involve sexually explicit behaviour or dirty talking. Since the child knows it only as a game and does not understand the gravity of the situation, it is understandable to lose your cool and become panicky. The best thing to do, however, is to not give in to the impulse of panicking and to try and keep your calm. Too much panic on your side could cause your child to start thinking that he or she is at fault somewhere.
Lecture Less, Listen Lots
The last thing a child wants to hear when he or she feels guilty or dirty because of an incident of sexual harassment that he or she had to live through, is a long lecture from parents on how to conduct themselves in society. Parents often make the mistake of thinking that their children were abused or harassed because they behaved badly or because they asked for it, quite a derogatory way to treat a child who may just be innocent. If the child is already traumatized, it will not do you any good to lecture him or her on code of conduct. Instead, try listening to your child and try to find out what went wrong and who is the culprit.
Repeat this to yourself again and again “It is not my child’s fault! It is not my child’s fault!” The more the number of times you say this to yourself, the more confident you will be of yourself when you talk to your child about it. Also, if your child feels guilty or dirty or has lost confidence in himself or herself, saying this aloud to him or her will help get rid of those feelings of inadequacy. Children secretly yearn for the approval of their parents and if you show confidence in your child, he or she will be saved from a lot of trauma that comes with sexual abuse.
Talk to your child’s teacher or the school counselor and tell them about the whole issue. They may be able to help you and other children like your child. If the perpetrator is someone inside the school, which is quite likely, they may be able to take action against the person lest he hurts other children too. They may also hold workshops for children on how to respond to acts of abuse.