Precautions a parent can take to ensure that their child is safe

When we grew up, child abuse was unheard. Surely, whenever such incidents occurred, they were brushed under the carpet, or the child themselves never felt comfortable or confident enough to tell any member of the family about the incident.
The abuser need not be a stranger, or somebody the family didn’t know too well, but could be a respected neighbor, a friendly relative of the family or a good family friend of the same age as your father. Sadly, the true faces of these monsters remained forever hidden, except for the terrible scars on the victim’s mind.

Things have changed today. For one, parents themselves are aware of the dangers and constantly keep a watch for the safety of their children. No longer do we need to be careful about only girls, even boys are being abused. The age of abuse starts much earlier these days, we need to be careful about children of any age, not just children in their teens. When we send down kids as young as five to the building park to play, we need to be very aware about who they play with, where they are.

It is never too early to familiarise a child about the difference between good touch and bad touch from adults.

As a parent, here are ten things you could warn your child when he/she starts going to play in your society building ground, park or the society premises:

  1. Teach them not to hide or play alone in lonely or dark areas of the building or even the terrace.
  2. Insist that they play around the areas where their parents can keep a watch on them.
  3. In the absence of the parents, the child should be instructed to go to a reliable and trustworthy neighbour to seek help. The child should not ask strangers for help.
  4. Children tend to go their friends house at every given chance. Discourage your child from doing so. They should be told not to go to anybody’s house without the parent’s permission.
  5. If the child is playing down unsupervised, insist that the child should be back home before it is dark
  6. Forbid your child from talking with strangers.
  7. Teach your child not to accept things from strangers, like toys or candy under any circumstances.
  8. Question your child about what he or she played, and with whom, and crosscheck with the child’s friends when possible.
  9. Make the child aware of the dangers of getting overfriendly with adults on the premises they don’t know too well.
  10. Supervise, crosscheck and reinforce. Repeat these safety measures to the child every time he/she goes to play.

A child who knows about the good touch and bad touch will surely inform you if he or she has experienced a bad touch. If your child does come to you with such a complaint, do take it seriously and confront the offender. Ask your child for a detailed description of the incident, and reassure your child that he or she is not to be blamed. This will reassure the child that the parents take his complaints seriously and the child will come to you with any such issues in the future rather than not talking about it at all, as well as not lay the burden of guilt and shame on the child.

By Pramila Payal, (Teacher and mother of a 15 year old girl)