Child Sexual Abuse is an evil that exists in every society but people hardly talk about it. After talking to around 15 people among family and friends, the common linkage is the lack of communication. Communication is therefore very important between the child and the parent, parent and the perpetrator, parent and the Child Abuse Helpline/police.
Let’s look at these different stages of communication in more details.
1) Child & Parent
This is the most sensitive stage of communication. As a parent, its very common to scare off your child by your strict presence. Therefore it becomes important to be friendly with them. Its important to be patient with them. But the most important of it all is to teach the child the difference between good touch/bad touch very early in life. Everything that we have learnt today is either taught to us by our parents, teachers, friends etc. or is learnt through the experience of the incident. Children learn the things they are taught and observe. They will only be able to open up if they know the difference between good/bad. A common observation was that it was not until they were 16-18 years of age, that they realized that the incident that happened to them was unwanted. And therefore they couldn’t communicate as they well knew that it would be futile.
2) Parent & Perpetrator
Now that the child has effectively communicated the problems, it’s important for parents to take cognizance of it. Trust the child. 90% times, the child isn’t lying. But as parents, you ought to verify the facts. Often, the perpetrator is known to the family and it becomes a dicey situation. Observe keenly the person’s behaviour around the child and the child’s behaviour around that person. Confrontation is the next big step. You need to question the perpetrator. Its not necessary that they admit. It’s necessary that you reasonably doubt him/her. This becomes difficult as the person you might be confronting is someone within the extended family, someone who has all your affection. A common observation was that the perpetrator manipulated the parents by complaining about the child itself or blaming it on the poor domestic help or nanny.
3) Parent & Helpline Agency
The reasonable doubt planted in your mind should bring you to this recourse. 90% cases stop at the stage of confrontation. We don’t bother to inform as it’ll hamper the public image or goodwill in the society. A common observation was that parents were very hesitant to report as confronting them was “apparently enough” and people should be given a chance to rectify themselves. Its important to realize that these perpetrators are no less than criminals in the society. They are mentally sick and need professional attention. And therefore it’ll be a boon to the society to report these incidents. We can save more lives.
This 3-fold communication process will render the process easier and will help in effective communication taking place.