CSA awareness month might be over

…but the topic is always relevant.

We were at a kiddy birthday party some months ago and either the Brat or the Bean ( I forget which one) came running out screaming,  ‘We’re playing doctor and look what X is doing to Y’. All of us parents froze in that one second and you could feel the tension in the room. Playing doctor? Thankfully we were all sensible enough not to rush into the room together and make a big deal. Another parent and I casually strolled into the nursery and the rest waited nervously for news.

There was nothing amiss, really. A bunch of them were playing with the doctor set (all below the age of 6), and one was just being particularly rough with another. That’s it. No funny business. We put an end to the rough play, told them not to hurt each other and came out to inform the other parents. A collective sigh of relief went around the room.

We all know what it means when kids are playing doctor. Almost every kid has at some point in life experienced some form of exploration, either of themselves or of another child. And almost every single one of them has realised they are doing something taboo. As you all are aware, last month, April, was Child Sexual Awareness Month. And although the month is over, I had to post on this very important topic. The Bride brings up a few questions in her CSA post, including, how should parents react if they find their kids engaged in voluntary sexual acts? And is it still rape if it is between two minors, where one is the aggressor. The jury is out on the second one because there are so many grey areas here. Many sexually aggressive children have been abused themselves, and think this is perfectly normal behaviour. For the first, I turned to a couple of friends and gurus and Sandhya (I always count on her for a sensible, thought through response instead of my knee jerk ones) had this to say. I urge you to read both posts as well as comments for a very interesting and open minded discussion.

Moving on to the second part of my post. For this last month that I’ve worked on the CSA blog and spoken to friends and forwarded posts and shared them on FB, I’ve had so many people nod vehemently and then take me aside and deeply concerned, ask me, ‘Are you sure this is the right thing to do? To talk to your child about this kind of stuff? Aren’t you taking away their innocence? Filling their heads with all sorts of ideas.’

I’ve been pretty gobsmacked at this response. 1 in every 4 women has been abused. 90% of perpetrators are known to their victim. What does that tell you? That your child is at high risk and it could well be someone you know. Now, do you choose ‘protecting their innocence’ or protecting your child?

Which brings me to the next point. What the hell is this innocence you’re protecting? What is it that parents imagine awareness entails? Do you imagine we’re hanging up graphic charts and using power point presentations to illustrate all the ways a child can be abused in?

All you’re doing is telling your child that it is not okay for anyone to touch them, just as you’d tell them not to run on to the road, play with knives or matches or whack their sibling on the head with a bat.

Ask the parent of an abused child what they’d do differently if they could turn back time. They’d teach their child their rights, they’d teach their child what it is wrong for another to do to them. And they’d teach them to come back and tell them about it.

The kids are rushing out to play in the garden and I make a long arm and grab both for their weekly pop quiz – What are your private parts? Who can touch them? Are you allowed to touch anyone there? Do you need to tell mama if someone scares you and says not to tell her? Will you get into a car with a stranger? Will you take food from someone you don’t know? Which side of the road are you supposed to walk on? Which is the smallest continent? Which is the biggest planet?

And there you go, it’s done. They rush off to gather bugs and leaves.

They’ve not been pulled into a dark corner and educated in a sepulchral tone. They don’t look particularly scarred or traumatised for being educated. It’s yet another of mama’s strictures and the taboo quality is something only we adults add to it. Can I be sure they’ll be safe after the rigorous awareness routine I take them through? Unlikely. But have I done the best I can, to protect them? I think so.

I want them to be brave and free and confident and for that I need to let them go. Equip them with the knowledge and then pray for the best. Tell them to trust their instincts and hope they will bring their worries to me as we cuddle after lights out for goodnight chat.

So, what are you talking to your child about, tonight?


21 thoughts on “CSA awareness month might be over

  1. That is indeed a wonderful way of educating your child.I am now sure that how quickly I need to make J aware of all thisI am ashamed at not being able to do so till now.

    • Its okay, babe. J is always with either you or Mashi. It’s a rare moment she is alone, so no harm done. But yes, I am sure you can start now with her as well as with R.

  2. Every time there is a school trip or some function at my daughter’s school, I can hear my wife reminding my princess to make sure not go toilet alone, go to a teacher if somebody touches her inappropriately and tell us if a teacher is making her uncomfortable. Same is with the boy. It makes me cringe. I think like innocence lost. But then, what is the price that the kid might end up paying if we don’t teach her? At the end of the day, this is just another facet of making them aware of unacceptable behaviours… like yelling and shouting, like talking while eating, like watching TV while doing homework, like not showing respect when somebody is visiting, like taking care of personal hygiene, like…. you know… everything.
    I still remember when I was about 5 years old and one of the domestic help at hour house started *teaching* me about female anatomy… not sure what happened, but one day when somebody was visiting and I told my mom that her something was too big… and that’s when they came to know about what is going on. I was lucky.. and they were lucky that it was nipped in the bud… but things could have detoriated easily and I am sure they would have.

    P.S: waiting for your nod Ma’am

  3. Love your simple straightforward approach to educate kids about this extremely important issue. Better safe than sorry and you don’t want them losing their innocence with bad things actually happening to them because they were not aware about how to deal with it.

  4. Brilliant post. I completely concur with the awareness and your pop quiz routine. I plan to do the same with my kiddo once she is old enough to understand and I have to let her go by herself in public places (she is only a year and a half old right now).

  5. hmm i’m yet to start educating this with my kids(7 and 2). i was not sure even hesitant ,but your way of approach is good may be i should try this way.

  6. It is amazing how many young highly-educated educated urban parents are completely clueless about the basics of this stuff, like teaching your child about good touch and bad touch. The incident at my friend’s building that I blogged about showed me that. By the way, I directed them to the CSA Awareness Month blog, hope that helped them. Thanks a lot to everyone who put so much effort into the initiative.

  7. I am mailing the set of questions you ask brat and bean to my sister. I am sure she has her own version of educating her son, my nephew but I like the comprehensiveness of your questions…

    It’s been such a long time MM since I met you..

  8. Great post as usual. Just to add, I think the key is to be able to explain it at your child’s level of understanding.. you want them to get it or atleast come tell you before it goes to far, at the same time not confuse them. Another thing I have started doing with my 5 year old, is being more careful about how I pamper her or show affection.. I try to avoid the butt etc. because I dont want her to think, oh mommy plays with me like this, so others can too. I dont know if that’s an overkill on my part, but just felt it is better to start early than late, as tempting as it is to keep treating them like babies. What are your thoughts?
    Kuttys mom

    • I struggle with that one too. Kissing her tummy, smacking his butt as he walks by…. It’s not overkill at all. But I also think its taking something away from our parenting. It’s taking away the sheer joy we take in them, in every little finger and toe. So I’ve done it, and then told them they are not to let anyone else do it. No one should touch their butt, no one should kiss their belly, no one should kiss on the mouth, because all these things will also pass on germs. Somehow, the two of them are more in awe of germs than anything else, so I milk it for what its worth!

  9. Pingback: CSA awareness month might be over by The Mad Momma « CSA Awareness Month

  10. I wanted to do a post and then the month got away from me. I’m glad you did this in May, I took inspiration and I did my post too. Thanks MM

  11. hmm…such a solid way to do it. mine is not yet two and i worry already on how to get around teaching him this…he is a social creature and loves to be picked up by strangers and friends alike.
    loved your words : protecting them rather than protecting their “innocence”.

  12. There is so much I learn about parenting from you. You have a very sensible way of putting across things. Started following your blog only recently. I’m a mother(SAHM) to an 11-month old boy.

  13. Pingback: Why is my baby scared? | The Mad Momma

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