Have you heard about cases of sexual abuse or sexual intrusion among peers less than 10 years?
This incident occurred between two primary one students (boy and girl) exactly three weeks ago in one of the cities in Nigeria. And was accidentally found out by the parent of the victim (the girl) while going through the usual routine of asking their kids how they fared in school.
What happened? The girl’s private part had been touched by a boy who happens to be her classmate.
How, when, where? According to the account given by the girl, the boy was fond of following her around in school. On that particular day, the boy had followed her to the toilet, told her to draw her trouser and pant down and touched her private part!
As would be expected with any responsible parent, they said they were enraged and confounded at the same time.
Enraged because two days preceding the incident, they had talked to their kids and showed a video on not allowing anybody to touch their private parts.
To eliminate all doubts and to establish facts, the incident was reported by the girl’s parent to the school authority the next day. Shockingly, the boy in question not only attested to following her around but also affirmed that he indeed actually touched her private part when he was thoroughly probed.
So while we might be focused and keen on educating and watching out for our kids against sexual abuse or intrusion by adults, we should not forget same could happen from quarters least expected-between pairs especially very young children.
How do we guide against occurrences like this?
- Number one and perhaps the most important step is building and maintaining communication channel with our kids. Bond with them. Be their friends…their confidant. Going back to the experience narrated above. If the parent of the victim had not established a communication channel before now, the chances of finding out about the incident is quite slim.
- The next is clearly telling our kids to respect other people’s body. You don’t go around checking other people’s private part. It is absolutely wrong. The earlier we tell them this the better.
- Clearly identify and label male/female private parts. Explain how private parts are different from public parts of the body and why.
- Being curious about the private parts of someone else is normal. Whenever you have questions about private parts always come and speak to mom/dad.
- Just like there are rules for behaving in school, crossing the street, etc. there are rules that pertain to our bodies. One set of rules pertains to our private parts. We never allow anyone to touch our private parts and we never touch another’s private parts. Make sure to detail exceptions i.e. parents teaching their child how to bathe, a doctor examining a child’s private parts, accidental touch of someone’s private parts as when wrestling and playing around, etc.
- We don’t show our private parts to anyone else and they should not show you theirs. Again, there are exceptions like disrobing in a locker room that you can highlight.
- We need to explain to our child that the above two examples include kids they know well or don’t know well at all, whether they are the same age or older. Other kids should not touch your private parts and you should not touch theirs.
- Should an adult or another child try and touch your private parts or get you to touch theirs always say “No”, try and leave where you are or tell an adult near you (teacher, parent), and always tell mom/dad.
- Discuss with your child how an adult or another child can try to trick you into touching their private parts or trick you into touching theirs.
- If an adult or another child does touch or tries to touch your private parts or get you to touch theirs it is never your fault.
- PLAN ON HAVING THESE CONVERSATION PERIODICALLY THROUGHOUT THE YEAR AND EVERY YEAR WITH YOUR CHILD.
- Use teachable moments to address as many of these issues with your child as you can.
- Periodically create hypothetical scenarios with your child where she or he has to brainstorm solutions for managing an “Uh Oh” feeling or a possible touching situation.
These tips not only apply to parents. These should also be taught in schools.