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How to talk to your children about child abuse, strangers

Psychologists share tips on teaching children about safety

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 12, 2020 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago
Editing & Writing | Aqsa Mansoor, Aniqa Zainab
Posted: Nov 12, 2020 | Last Updated: 3 weeks ago

Psychologists recommend establishing between good and bad touch. Art: Trinette Lucas/SAMAA Digital

News of the Kashmore gang rape of a woman and her four-year-old daughter was already distressing enough when a video of the child surfaced on social media on Thursday. It is extremely difficult to describe what one saw. All we could talk about in the newsroom as we struggled to report the story was how should we be talking to our children about strangers and child abuse.

At what age is a right to start talking to your child about anatomy and body parts? We all have the sense that children are maturing faster in these times but it is still difficult to even begin to educate them about such matters. The problem is that we are reporting on rape cases and child abuse every other day.

Psychologists Dr Zohra Batool and Zainab Barry offered us these tips. They pointed out certain ways in which children can be taught to protect themselves.

Related: Men gang-rape woman, four-year-old daughter in Kashmore for 2 weeks

  1. Talk about good and bad touch Educate your children about good and bad touch. Tell them there are body parts that only parents can touch. The main goal is to make your children identify between two emotions: happiness and sadness. After they are able to identify these emotions, we further help them to learn about their feelings and what they feel about certain touches.   
  2. Schools should hold workshops with parents along with their children in order to teach them about primary caregivers and how to identify emotions.
  3. Tell them to not take anything from strangers. If a stranger approaches them, they should first ask their parents before talking to them.
  4. Develop a security code or password with your child. If your child is alone at home, he or she should only open the door if the stranger knows that code. It will help identify a total stranger from someone who is family.
  5. There are some emotional signs that help parents know if a child has been abused such as a mood change, irritability, fear, no eye contact, swelling and marks on body parts.
  6. You can begin telling children about good and bad touch from age three. Make it easy for them in the form of story-telling, cartoons etc. You can later teach your child about genitals and how to identify gender through animal drawings. There are numerous ways through art in which children are taught about body safety.  
  7. Don’t leave your children alone with strangers or unattended in public spaces even if they are the playground in the housing or neighbourhood complex.
  8. Listen to your child. Don’t negate them if they share something with you. Observe if there is a behaviour change. Build confidence, so they can trust you.
  9. Don’t hide if a child has been abused. Seek professional help.

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