Each new day brings with itself cases of child molestation, which seem to be on the rise. Whether they are actually on the rise, or just being increasingly reported by the media, it is having its effect on parents and children alike. Parents are becoming overly protective of their youngsters, which is completely justified in the given scenario.
Parents have a dual role to play – to protect their children from harmful elements in society and to ensure that children learn to identify and stay clear of these elements.
Depending upon comprehension powers of a child, parents must explain the concept of ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ to their children. The age of the child when he/she is being explained this would vary as it depends upon when the parent wishes to introduce this concept. An accepatble age to discuss this topic is appx. 5-6 years of age as prior to this age kids are rarely by themselves and are always accompanied by adults or older children. It is usually at age 5-6 years that children start using a school bus on their own or go to the playground by themselves. These are the times when they are vulnerable to negative elements of society. Explaining such concepts to toddlers may not help as their level of understanding people is low.
The basis for explanation is that a ‘good touch’ is one given by family and friends who we love. If the feeling is good when a hug or touch is done by another person, then that is okay as it is acceptable to the child. When a touch by a stranger or outsider feels odd and awkward, then it is a ‘bad touch’.
This does not mean that family members can not give a ‘bad touch’. In many cases around the world, child molestation is done by members of the family. Basically, a child needs to be taught that he/she should accept (and allow) a touch by anyone only when he/she feels completely comfortable about it.
Apart from educating their children on these topics, parents should also bring the perpetrator (doer) to justice if any kind of ‘bad touch’ comes to their notice. The level of justice sought will depend upon the extent of the crime and the concerned parents ; but, at any stage, the perpetrator should not be allowed alone near the child again.