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By Fr. Dr. Francis Swamy SJ
Jan 19th, 2019

St Mary’s ICSE in association with Rubaroo an NGO working in the field of child sexual abuse conducted a workshop for parents and students of class 1 on 14th January, 2019 at 8.15 am in the Mary Immaculate Hall.

The workshop began with questions revolving around children’s awareness about their body. What is child abuse and the trauma they undergo etc. They emphasized a very important aspect that both girls and boys are equally vulnerable to sexual abuse.

The facilitator highlighted that: The age group of 5 years to 12 years is most vulnerable. The changes to watch out for by the victim are: bed wetting, phobia, anger, fear, change in eating and sleeping habits and extreme shifts in behavior from being an extrovert to being an introvert.

Disclosure and sharing the experience with their parent: Children find it difficult to share with parents as they think it is their fault. Secondly the child feels no one would believe them, and they feel that the parent may leave and go.

The facilitator gave some tips on how parents should handle this issue with their children: Parents need to keep Calm, Believe in the child, and emphasize that it is not the child’s fault, Don’t make the child repeat his experience as it embarrasses the child and repetition will only lead to reliving the traumatic event again. Don’t confront the child in front of the abuser.

Prevention: The facilitator emphasized certain things to follow in order to avoid any uncomfortable situations Avoiding one to one situations between an unknown adult and a child. Allowing and facilitating children to establish touch boundaries. Having a password and code word between the parent and the child. We can also teach our children how to be safe by informing them regularly that they are the Boss of their bodies and teaching them names of their private body parts, Body rules 1, 2 ,3 i.e. no one can touch you, shout if someone does, and tell a trusted adult.

Finally the most important thing: IT IS NOT THEIR FAULT. The workshop ended with an interactive question answer session.