Sex and Gender sensitivity as well as Sex Education has been a sensitive topic in India with arguments being hosted for and against it by different parts of society. While we are debating over its relevance in changing times, the reported incidents of child sexual abuse has taken a toll and left us absolutely alarmed. According to a 2013 report, India has reported 48,338 child rape cases from 2001 to 2011. These figures set India to stand in second position just after South Africa in its child sexual abuse rate. Sexual abuse coming out in open day in day out presently does not mean that it was nonexistent previously and came to life now. However now, as a society we seem to be more open to admit it, prevent it & learn from it.
Sex education for very young is like walking on a thin rope. We certainly need to balance between what is to be conveyed & what is to be left unsaid. It calls for trained & experienced professionals to take it up. However there are certain components which are quintessential for the sex education modules for children. Teachers and parents need to keep those in mind when they raise & educate children.
Awareness about Proximity Limits
Firstly the awareness about proximity limits. Our children certainly need to be educated about the acceptable & not acceptable behavior from people when it comes to the way others are looking at them, talking to them or touching them. In most cases children cannot recognize the emotions which rise out of discomfort. From the time they were born when they were totally dependent on elders to the partial dependence state they would be in during childhood, children would not be equipped to differentiate the well intentioned behavior from not so well intentioned. As a parent or teacher it’s recommended to start with the education about good touch & bad touch and take it beyond. Ensure that you talk with your child every day about different people in child’s life and the activities he or she does with any person. Clear & open communication is inevitable if we want to protect our children from abuse which also takes us to the second component of effective sex education.
Is child comfortable reporting Adults..??
In child’s view an adult is right & all powerful. It is hard for the child to recognize that adult could be wrong in certain cases and to further report it. He or she is used to being cared & taught by adults and also has observed her caregivers behaving nicely with adults most of the time whereas they have not believed her, scolded her or punished her certain times. Child certainly will be scared about the way caregiver might receive the information and the way affected adult might treat her once she talks about it to anyone. It becomes essential for child to know that when she is being truthful, her opinion would be held high even if it’s about an adult…any adult.
Is Child being blackmailed or lured in any way..??
In most cases of abuse it is common for the abuser to either lure the child with some rewards or blackmail the child with a wrong child could have committed. This situation either confuses the child or scares him. We need to teach our children to talk to teacher or caregiver whenever he is confused or scared about anything and also ensure that child is never ever punished for talking about his emotions. Secondly child needs to know that physical violation is an act which is a must to be reported and which will be heard and acted upon by caregiver or teacher unconditionally. Child needs to know that any wrongdoing from his part is trivial compared to physical violation or discomfort caused by another person. If someone is repeatedly rewarding the child caregiver or teacher need to follow it up closely with child.
Are Parents and Teachers Equipped..??
All these components need to be taught in experiential way to a child as children in their growing years learn more from what we do than what we say. What is said is heard, understood to some extent and forgotten. However what is experienced is ingrained in the mind & acted upon. It would be optimal to design programs keeping these basic criteria in mind and help every parent and teacher aware of the ways to equip children against abuse. It will be a welcome move for schools to have a trained professional initially delivering the modules and for teachers and students to follow it up closely further.
Beyond Randomness is an organization run by psychologists, based in Bangalore...Know More