Daily we hear about incidents of young kids being sexually abused in various parts of the country. The incidence of these cases areonly increasing each year. Teaching children about body safety is extremely important in today’s world. Although many schools teach this as part of school curriculum, it is imperative that parents first educate their children at home.
There are different ways of teaching children body safety. Using pictures, stories and videos is helpful.
For young children, a good way is teaching them is through what is called “Circle of Life”.
First and foremost, help them identify their private parts, draw pictures of a girl and boy and ask them to identify private parts.
Then explain the following circles in a pictorial way
Private circle- The people who can touch them on their private parts. Ex: when they are small- parents, a doctor while examining them in presence of parents
Hug circle- People whom they can hug or sit on their lap. Ex: grandparents, close relatives, family friends
Handshake/ wave circle- people whom they can shake hands or wave, but cannot hug or sit on lap. Ex: distant relatives, acquaintances, shop keepers, house maids etc
Stranger circle- people who should be avoided. Ex: strangers
Draw circles for each and ask the child to write names in corresponding circles. Repeat this as a game with them once in few days.
Few things to teach children:
Teach them the correct way to name body parts while bathing or while using the washroom
Tell them no one has the right to touch them, anytime, anywhere if they don’t like it, no matter who the person is
Don’t get emotional while explaining. Do it in a non-judgemental manner
Bad touch wont be only touch to private areas but anything which makes them uncomfortable like someone touching their lips
Tell them they are not supposed to touch other's private parts as well
Teach them to say NO and report to you
Practice these things with your children
Few things parents should do:
Make kids understand the importance of confiding in their parents
Help them to feel comfortable with their own bodies
Explain to them that they need to report to parents if anyone touches them inappropriately
Talk to them daily, know their friends and their whereabouts
If you observe any sudden behavioral changes or drop in academic performance, do pay more attention. If needed, take help of counselors
In case any child reports abuse, it should be taken seriously
Believing and supporting the child is crucial
You can use this video to explain your child good touch bad touch. It’s a nice one...
Remember, most sexual abuse happens from people who know them and children are comfortable with. Children need to be emphasized on the thin line which needs to be drawn as they wont realize also that when that line is breached.
Disclaimer : "This handout is made on standard medical guidelines and is purely informative. Not to be used for treatment. The handout is IP of TPN. Any commercial use or misuse by third party will invite legal action"
About Dr. Manjiri Deshpande Shenoy
Dr. ManjiriDeshpandeShenoy is a practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist. Following her DNB (Psych), she pursued a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. She heads ICGC (Indlas Child Guidance Clinic), which is a multidisciplinary centre dedicated to children and adolescents.
ICGC caters to all kinds of emotional, behavioral, academic and adjustment problems of children. They have branches in Vijayawada and Mumbai.
Dr. Manjiri has conducted many workshops for children, parents and teachers on child mental health.