Children are the most vulnerable beings in society and studies show that the common tools used for child abuse is familiarity and trust earned from them. In some cases, children hesitate to tell parents for fear of being rebuked and blamed.
According to Clinical Psychologist Shruthi Kala, communicating and maintaining conversation with children, especially at a young age, is imperative in protecting them.
Parents need to understand the negative behaviour is not only unhealthy for a familial fabric but puts the child at risk of being abused or mistreated in the long term.
Speak: Parents must make an effort to speak to their kids about safety, social dangers and sexual awareness, show studies. These topics, if uncomfortable, can be done in the presence of a guide or counsellor but parental presence is mandatory.
Psychologist Shruthi Kala feels it is imperative for parents and teachers to inform their children and students about Good Touch and Bad Touch from a young age.
It is not just a preventive measure to safeguard them from physical and psychological trauma but also to make them feel comfortable, she says. In several cases, parents are often scared or ashamed to raise the issue. In such cases they must train themselves.
Awareness: Reports, studies and victims' accounts prove that in most cases of child abuse the perpetrator is a relative or an acquaintance. Establishing a sense of trust and caution in a child is extremely important. Kala says constant vigilance is important while raising a young child since young children naturally trust of an adult.
Eliminating fear is important for a scared or confused child. In case of early adolescents and teens, a list of preventive measures may help; like teaching the child to always be alert and beware of their surroundings when walking alone or even in the public. Kala says that there seems no need for parents to be fearful all the time once they have educated their child about the same.
Prevention: The most common lure technique is to offer sweets or food to a child, who must be taught to politely decline. In case of being forced, they can accept it and keep it aside in a bag or pocket. In case of lewd and inappropriate behaviour or speech the child must immediately alert someone, especially if the culprit is known to the family.
Many times predators use threats to silence the child. Parents must strictly enforce the idea of communicating with them and build trust which works greatly in quelling fear or shame. Another very effective method is to tell your child to scream and run. Most perpetrators always expect their victim to be seized by fear. Teach your child not to panic and be quick and instantaneous to react wisely.
Defence: While martial arts and other defence techniques are great tools for self-defence, simple things can turn into temporary weapons. Water bottles can act as a temporary hammer, enough to disorient the attacker for the child to run or raise an alarm. Heavy books, especially with the spine can hurt when in contact with knuckles, bones or muscle joints like the neck, wrist, fingers or knees. Another quick and effective tool is stones, which are almost easy to procure outside. A quick kick to the knee, crotch or the shins can also momentarily render the attacker motionless and create a window to escape.
These are just a few tips which could prove effective but the result depends heavily on the situation. Like Shruthi Kala says, once the child is made aware, parents need not be extremely worried.