Sex education from school age is the need of the hour…
The rates of reporting and disclosing a history of child sexual abuse are increasing. In cases of child sexual abuse, a child needs to be “Trusted, Believed and Helped”. Children do not have the language to describe what they have gone through and adults don’t understand what the child is trying to say.
Sexual abuse of a child refers to any sexual contact between an adult and child or between two children when one of them is significantly older than other or uses force or threat to secure child’s participation for the others sexual gratification.
Sexual abuse can involve behaviour over an extended time or a single incident.
There are two types of behaviors in abuse- 1) Non touching 2) Touching
Non touching behaviors could take various forms such as watching sexual videos or pornography films with a kid, forcing a kid to listen to sex talks or making obscene phone calls, taking seductive or sexual photographs, exhibitionism, and voyeurism. Non touching behavior is often used by offenders to ‘set the scene up’ for further sexual abuse.
The touching behavior relates to direct touch in private areas such as breasts, buttocks or genitals, whether the victim is dressed or undressed. Vaginal or anal penetration with an object or finger, vaginal or anal intercourse also falls under touching behaviour. The figure shows the target areas.
Abused children manifest a variety of emotional, behavioural, and somatic reactions.
Behavioural complaints are nightmares, bedwetting or fear of dark. Children become uncomfortable or fearful and distant with someone formerly liked by them. They become excessively clingy. They start expressing sexual knowledge that is not appropriate for the child’s age. Older Children may have anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, low self-confidence, poor scholastic performance, running away from home, suicidal attempts, sexual harm to other children.
Physical indicators are frequent abdominal pain, bleeding, headache, genital or anal irritation, pain, bruises on breast, buttocks, and thighs; torn, stained, bloody underwear. They could even lead to pregnancy, repeated urinary tract infection, or even sexually transmitted diseases like HIV.
How can you protect your child?
Talking helps! Teach your kids to speak up if they feel uncomfortable. Talk using simple language, try to understand their emotions. Teach them to differentiate between good and bad touch. Never force them to hug or kiss friends or relatives to whom they don’t want to be with. Teach them to say ‘No’ in such conditions. Intervene if they are unable to say no. Show that you trust them. Be cautious of people giving extra attention to children. You should be available for your kids at all times.
Who should the child inform about the abuse?
Ideally the child should inform about this abuse as soon as possible to someone he/she trusts. They can also inform about the abuse to the people in their safe zone. They can inform parents, teachers, doctors, counselors and social workers about the abuse.
If your child is abused Don’t panic. Don’t criticize the child. Don’t make the child feel guilty about what happened. Tell the child that it’s not his/her mistake and provide all the needed support.
As a psychiatrist I have seen patients of depression, anxiety, personality problems, sexual dysfunction that have history of childhood sexual abuse. That incident has long lasting effect on their psychology. So consult a doctor or a counselor for child’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Take a stand against the abuser.
There are increasing events of rape, child sexual abuse, sexual harassment at work place. Long term and effective solution to this is sex education right from school age. Thatmate.com is a platform to talk and to create awareness about sex education.
Dr. Jyoti Jagtap ( The Psychiatrist )
Doctor by occupation…no not a fake one like Ross..a real doctor!! A Photographer whenever she gets a chance to click. An actor..on and off the stage.. And a writer in making…