Need to sensitise children, parents about child sexual abuse

Two Mumbai children consumed rat poison after being sodomized by four men. On the background of this incident, paediatricians and psychiatrists emphasized the need to sensitize parents about good touch and bad touch to empower their children. Doctors say, children should be made aware of the inappropriate behavior by adults. Sexual abuse can have adverse effects on children’s mentality and if the issue is not addressed in time, it may turn into a personality disorder

Need to sensitise children, parents about child sexual abuse

In a shocking incident in Mumbai, two children consumed rat poison and lost their lives due to multiple organ failures. A 10-year-old and a 13-year-old took such an extreme step after they were sodomized by four men.

On the background of this incident, pedestrians and psychiatrists emphasized the need to sensitize parents on importance of good touch and bad touch to empower their children.

Dr Nikhil Datar, a Gynaecologist and Medical Director at Cloud Nine hospital, said, children should be made aware of the inappropriate behavior by adults. “We should educate children about good touch and bad touch. Parents need to make them aware of sexual abuse. Unfortunately, even parents don’t have the exact vocabulary to communicate this to children. That is why there is need of sex education at various levels,” said Dr Datar.

Sexual abuse can have adverse effects on children’s mentality. According to Dr Vasant Mundra, Consultant Psychiatrist practicing at PD Hinduja Hospital said that if the issue is not addressed in time, it may turn into a personality disorder. “Children, victims of sexual abuse, feel loss of trust and control. It is very important to comfort them and make them realise that it’s not their fault. If their agony is not addressed on the time then it can develop into a personality disorder. So, if parents and children have proper communication then it can be identified early. Communication between children and parents is very important,” said Dr Mundra.

The data of Mumbai police has shown the rise in the incidences of child sexual abuse. In 2016, police had received 908 child sexual abuse complaints which had increased by 102 than 2015. Comparing these numbers with last four years, it was observed that the cases had increased by 486 since 2013.

According to Dr Samir Dalwai, a developmental paediatrician and President of Indian Academy of Paediatrics – Mumbai chapter, there should be a change in the conventional concept of sensitization of parents about child sexual abuse. “Parents need to listen and talk about everything their children want to share. It shouldn’t be only restricted to good touch or bad touch. Parents need to pay more attention towards what their children want to say about anything. That’s how children will feel comfortable and assured while sharing incidences of sexual abuse with them. Most importantly, do not disbelieve children when they complain about a person. Comfort them first and then decide the future course of the actions to be taken,” said Dr Dalwai.

Need to sensitise children, parents about child sexual abuse

Children will open up with their feelings before parents if they have confidence that they will get justice from them. Emphasizing on this point, former principal Dr. Sobhana Nair of  SIA High School and Jr College in Dombivali, said, “Relationship between parents and children has to be healthy. Children should be able to tell anything to the parents and be assured that the parents would not judge them. That’s how they will develop a healthy relationship. Also, schools and teachers also should be very sensitive about this issue.”

Even the ‘Good touch and Bad touch’ campaign launched by the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD) has revealed some startling facts on child sexual abuse. The study was done by interviewing 200 adolescents in the age group of 15-20. It had revealed that 20% of the respondents, who experienced sexual abuse, had informed their parents at least once, but only about half of the parents further enquired into the matter.

Need to sensitise children, parents about child sexual abuse

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act has sensitized the law towards child sex abuse. Dr Datar emphasized on the awareness about the law among parents and educational institutions. “There is a general misconception that POSCO is for female children. It is applicable to all children and is an instrument in hands of the children and parents to punish the culprits. If used effectively, it can put deterrence to child sexual abuse. For this, the children and parents should know what sexual abuse means,” said Dr Datar.