With the increasing complexity of social life it is becoming more and more important to empower small children (right from the age of 3) with right knowledge about their own body parts, privacy need and personal space and about ‘Good touch and Bad touch’ to ensure their safety. This knowledge about good and bad touch will not only keep children safe but also help them develop secure (attachments – was relationship meant here?) and healthy personality. In addition, to guide children learn about safe touch, first parents need to be more open minded and confident while talking and imparting right information. As per the manual of Kids Safety Council, it is essential for parents to keep the following points in mind when guiding children about safety behavior:
- Teach children the correct names of all their body parts, including the private parts.
- Teach them about four major private zones of the body, i.e., Mouth, Chest, Buttocks and the area between legs. These four zones are not to be touched or seen by anybody, except for the mother that too until a certain age while giving the child a bath or dressing the child. Doctors or nurses are also allowed checking child in their private zones but only in presence of parents.
- Help children to understand that their body belongs to them, or that “they are the boss of their body”.
- Explain the details about three kinds of touches to the child. These are Safe touch which make children feel secure, happy and good about the person; Unsafe touch which make children feel threatened or hurt them like hitting, pushing, punching, etc.; Unwanted touch, that makes a child feel uncomfortable and not so good about the person who is touching him/her.
- Teach children about safety rules as follows:
- Not to touch anyone’s private parts.
- Not to allow anyone else to touch own private parts.
- Avoid and report if anyone touches their private parts in other’s presence.
- Not to allow anyone to take photographs with clothes taken off.
- Not to take off clothes in front of anyone unless the person is a doctor or nurse and trying to examine medically, but that too to be done in presence of parents.
- It is not alright if anyone is showing videos or pictures of people without clothes on.
- If the child feel not good about some kind of touch, teach him/her to say a firm ‘No!’ and even shout out for help, if needed.
- Teach child to avoid the person with whom he/she is not feeling good, and report about it immediately to a trusted person like parents or teachers or any other elderly person whoever available first.
- Teach child not to keep any secret from parents, especially the mother. Help child feel confident and share his/her mind.
- Make child learn about the child helpline number, 1098, and to seek for immediate help whenever he/she sense any danger for him/herself or even for any other child too.
- Help child believe that if someone does something wrong, it is that person’s fault, the child should not feel guilty or ashamed.
- Teach child to never accept gifts from anyone if the person ask the child to keep any secret from parents.
How to help children distinguish between ‘Good touch and Bad Touch’?
- A good touch is which the child gets from parents that makes him/her feel secure and happy, like parental hugs and kisses in cheeks or forehead. Whereas a bad touch is, the touch that makes child feel scared, nervous and ashamed.
- Grandparents and other family members’ loving and caring touch is good touch, but a touch that is forced and if it hurts, it is always a bad touch.
- Teacher’s or anyone else’s pats on head or shoulder is a good touch. However, touch in the private parts are bad touch.
- Brief friendly hugs or kisses on cheeks or foreheads are good, but kissing on the mouth considered bad.
- Shaking hands or giving high-fives are good. Whereas hitting, slapping, spitting, pushing or punching are bad.
- Receiving small gifts or candy’s from a trusted loving person is good, but if the person talks about playing secret games or keep some secret from parent and others that is bad.
The parents can also download animated videos available on internet teaching child about ‘Good touch and Bad touch’, watch them along with the child first, and then make the child discuss the video summary. It will be an effective method to start teaching child about safe touch and then gradually explaining them on the guided lines mentioned above.
There are many videos available now days, but it is most important to choose the age and gender appropriate one for guiding child on the right track. Two recommended videos in this regard are: “My body belongs to me” most appropriate for children of ages between 3 years to 6 years (especially for boys) and “Komal” appropriate for children of ages between 7 years to 10 years (especially for girls). Apart from the two there are many other videos, it is advised that parents watch them first alone, to understand the appropriateness, before watching with the child. Another important tip for parents is to give your child an imaginary situation of unsafe and unwanted touch and ask them about the safety measure they can take to get away from the situation. This will help parents be sure that the children have actually understood the points on keeping themselves safe.
As the time demands, present day parents need to get rid of their mental stigma attached with talking about body parts with their children to educate them rightly and to ensure personal safety. Help them be safe.