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Good Touch, Bad Touch: Why Prepare Your Child To Face The World

Posted: July 18, 2014

The recent sexual assault on a 6 year old child in Bangalore, while in school, has created shock waves among parents, and raises again the need for the Good Touch, Bad Touch talk.

 I am so furious, ashamed, scared and miserable while writing this post after reading about a 6 year old child being raped in Bangalore. The worst part is that it happened in school!

I am furious because I can’t do anything, I am ashamed because I belong to a nation that boasts about a fake culture, I am scared because I am a mother to a daughter, I am miserable because it’s the 21st century and ‘Woman’ is still insecure. It’s beyond my imagination to think about the pain, frustration and helplessness the little one and her family must be going through.

At this point of time, I realize that it is worth teaching, educating your kids about child abuse. Our Indian society for some reason has always preferred being closed, reserved about certain practices. For instance, how many parents would prefer openly discussing about ‘sex’ with their adolescents?

I belong to a very conventional family and my parents never spoke anything about this or rather in those days, one never felt the necessity of doing so. Times have changed, and life is full of insecurity and risks. What makes sense is to change and bring in that change within you first. Why not be the ‘change’ first yourself and then start propagating it?

It is difficult to strike a conversation with your kids/adolescents about a topic like child abuse or sex education; well, it has to be as these things aren’t as straightforward as a discussion about their favourite foods, movies, sports and so on. But, a stitch in time saves nine – why wait till it happens?

There are studies that show that a 4 year old can understand the difference between Good touch and Bad touch and understand what actions are sexual abuse. I would like to help make it even more simple.

How to create awareness about child abuse

1. Always be open to your child and make sure he knows that you are there when he needs you

2. It’s not about age, it’s about treating them as individual personalities. Treating them with dignity would enable them to differentiate between right and wrong

3. Have faith in them and always listen to their complaints rather than underestimating them

Getting started with the talk

Parents can actually decide to speak about this together or separately as per their comfort levels but a child would feel more cared for if both of them do this together. Literally, mark a day in your diary/calendar/reminder for this discussion.

Be prepared yourself and don’t hesitate to use the exact terms while describing situations. Young kids are fearless at this age and are unafraid to speak about matters which would make the adults uncomfortable.

There are 3 different types of touch, to make clear to a child:

Good touch: A hug, cuddle, a friendly pat, a friendly hand shake are few examples. Anything which feels good and brings in a sense of security, happiness and cheer is a good touch

Bad touch: Any violent act as hitting, kicking, pushing and biting that hurts, even if it is not sexual

Sexually abusive bad touch : A touch that is against ones’s will/wish and sexual in nature, such as ‘touching the private parts’  and leaving one feeling uncomfortable.

Teach them to speak their voice

Let your kids know that they can and should speak up when they feel uncomfortable about anything. It is essential for them to know that speaking up would make a difference. Inculcate that confidence in them where they can decide good and bad.

It is necessary to say ‘NO’ or refuse anything which is a cause of discomfort. A ‘NO’ is as valid and acceptable as a ‘YES’ in many situations. Often, family members are trusted but teach your child to point out if anyone has misbehaved with him/her.

It’s good to be a part of their day to day life. Make a habit of striking a conversation about their activities at day care, school, park etc. With both the parents working and little support, the child may end up spending more time at nursery/daycare, with friends. One can stay involved with them by conversing about their friends, the games they play, they topics they talk/discuss with friends.

Teach them to be careful in public places

There are perverts who have the dirty mindset of touching one’s body in public places. This could happen while standing in a queue for the bus, on the bus when you are seated away from your child and he is seated besides a stranger etc. So teach them to be more aware of such incidents in public places.

It’s a shame to actually overload them with this at an age which is meant to be carefree, at an age where innocence is so precious but if this is what needs to be done, then there is no choice left to us.

Leaving kids on their own to understand ‘something complex’ for their age leaves them baffled. They eventually will discover it one day but why wait until its too late?

This small talk can make a big difference. Parenting is a challenge and this is a job where you are untrained for it, needs no qualification, and is unpaid but brings with it a great responsibility.

Pic credit: Imagebang (Used under a CC license)

I have always loved writing and strongly believe that writing can create social awareness . I

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  1. Very true Trupti, and it is extremely important to discuss these with our kids. I would like to add on a few points here:

    1. As it is commonly believed, it is not that in kids, just the girls are abused. Even young boys are abused (by BOTH men and women). Though the percentage differs. The victim himself becomes an abuser later. In the case of many girls who are victims, they develop nonchalance (more of denial of reality, I believe) towards their own kids’ pain. There are many reasons for this indifference or inability, like patriarchal nature of the society, financial dependency of the mother on her husband, the outer world being cruel, etc.
    (Please read Pinki Virani’s ‘The Bitter Chocolate’ to get a full perspective about this.It is a must read for all, to know the whys and whats of the problem)

    2. When we tell our girls about these and the need for learning karate or any martial arts, are we not placing the responsibility on the victim to safeguard herself ? Should not we tell our boys or men (father, brother, son, nephew, male colleagues, or whoever), that ‘HIS LIBERTY STOPS AT THE TIP OF MY NOSE’.
    Even a man who is supposed to be physically stronger will not be able to come unscathed, when he is surrounded by 5 thugs.

    3. I feel the government should place the onus of bringing up a GOOD citizen in the hands of the parents, so the society will change. Because in many houses, though they are poor, they give birth to children, whom they cannot really provide for, and later these kids are deprived of proper channelisation of energy and land either as criminals or victims. But where are the parents who brought them to this world ?

    4. I seriously wonder, what the parents of these rapists doing? If the family thinks that a woman brings dishonour to a family by not obeying in-laws, marrying against caste, getting divorced, etc, then what about these rapists? Aren’t they bringing dishonour to the family? Just because the culprit is the one, who may take care of the parents in the future, should the parents leave them scot-free?

    Let us start setting limits to the boys and men in our family if they cross limits. Then the society is taken care at least to some extent. Let them know that even if they are not going to take care of us, what they are doing is wrong and abominable.

    • Hi Harshini..I so agree with your comment. The crux is a sense of living a decent life and let live others a decent life starts from home. We have to educate our kids about everything and never underestimate them. Whatever abuse happened has ever gone unnoticed due to the sufferer being shy or the people whom the sufferer conversed must have not trusted. In short we all have to understand that age is not an issue and start treating kids with dignity as individual personalities rather than asking them to keep shut!

  2. I have a 4 year old.I don’t trust anybody other than immediate family with him.I wonder,how I would be able to avoid any abuse which happens in school.. or any other place where I am not physically present all the time!How,would a 4 year old (even with good touch bad touch knowledge) stop 2 people from sexually abusing him if they want to?Hell,I am not able to stop a bully in class from hitting him … he’s been taught not to hit back but say No,and get an adult in the picture.It does stop any further hitting … but he does get hit the first time.

    As for keeping the child inside a dark room for punishment-this is defly the teacher and the school’s fault…for allowing this to happen.Nothing,other than talking about it openly in our community is going to help us.

    • Hi Saving, I completely understand the insecurity being a parent myself. How can I practically be with her everywhere? It could be too late till he/she actually realises about being touched/abused/bullied but I strongly feel that an initiative to speak openly automatically starts when you explain these issues to kids. If every parent start this then soon the society would be speaking about this.

  3. Here is a link, which was shared on Facebook, of a very good video explaining good touch bad touch http://www.storypick.com/finally-video-child-abuse-every-kid-can-watch-learn-show-kids-tonight/

  4. Thanks to Susan for sending the very informative video. We need to pass it on to all parents.
    Thanks to Trupti for initiating this topic.

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