Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Say ‘No’ to an unsafe touch

November 19 is Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse Day. Having to spend more and more time away from parents, it is necessary for you to know how to take care of yourself.

Shreya is nine years old — a happy, smart child. One day, when no one was around she was touched in a way that left her confused; by a favourite uncle. He said he would teach her about growing up and slid his hand under her dress. He told her that this was to be their secret. Shreya was puzzled and didn’t protest. She liked her uncle but didn’t like what he was doing.

When Rahul comes home from school his parents are still at work. He has to wait at his neighbour’s house till his mother returns. The neighbour’s son Naresh is in the final year of college. He owns a motorcycle that he likes to show off. He allows Rahul to sit on it and pretend he is riding it. But there is a deal. Every time Rahul sits on the bike he has to return the favour by touching Naresh’s private parts. He has also scared Rahul by threatening him that if anyone other than the two of them got to know about this, he would kill him.


Have you ever been in a similar situation? If you have or if you find yourself in one, here is what you can and should do. Remember what your parents always told you about not playing with fire, looking to the left and then right and left again before crossing the road and not talking to strangers? These are warnings that ensured you were safe when you were doing certain things.

Now there is another aspect of safety that you should know about — i.e. personal safety. With you having to be home alone with both parents at work or having to travel in the school van or auto with other little children or walk back by yourself from tuition class or dance class or music class or tennis coaching or whatever, in the evenings, keep the following tips in mind to help protect yourself :

If you are home alone and there is someone at the door that you don’t know if you could let in, call mom or dad at once to check or ask the visitor to come back later.

Danger signs
Sometimes people with not-so-good intentions may suggest playing “pants down” games or “doctor patient” games or “Amma Appa” games or may touch your private body parts ( any part of your body that is covered by your inner garments or underclothing) or want to play around with your lips.

If the van driver pinches your cheek or the auto driver places his hand between your legs or the tuition teacher tickles you every time you get a math problem right or the servant strokes your ear in a way you hate or if your family friend or cousin squeezes your breast or grabs your bottom and it feels uncomfortable don’t ever remain silent at such times.

Always keep in mind this important touching rule — if some one touches you in a way you don’t like or that leaves you feeling unsafe or confused or uncomfortable or forces you to touch them in a funny way just say a firm ‘NO’.

Protest loudly and get away from the spot and immediately tell someone who will listen to you and protect you — like your mom, dad, aunt, grandparent or teacher. Keep telling someone till you get help to make the abuse stop.

Nobody can touch you in a way that leaves you feeling unsafe or confused.

Your body is very special and belongs to only you. Nobody has a right to touch your private body parts but to keep you clean or healthy. If when you are being given a medical examination or a bath and the person is making you insecure or uncomfortable, say ‘NO’.

And yes you can always ask for your parent to be with you when the doctor is taking a look at you.

Whenever a person breaks the touching rule (no matter who it is — a relative, family friend or a tuition teacher or someone who works at home) and hurts you not only physically but also by causing you worry and fear, don’t ever blame yourself. It is not your fault at all. The important thing is to tell a trusted adult quickly and get help. Stay safe always. And say ‘No’ when you have to.

From the Young World by Sudha Uma Shanker
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