What is child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse includes touching and non-touching activity. Some examples of touching activities include:
Some examples of non-touching activity include:
|Common Sexual Behaviour||Rare Sexual Behaviour|
|Pre-school children (0-5) years||•Use childish ‘sexual’ language to talk about body,parts,
•Ask how babies are made and where they come from,
•Touch or rub they’re own private parts.,
•Show and look at private parts
|•Discuss sexual acts or use adult language to,describe the act,
•Have physical sexual contact with other children,
•Show adult-like sexual behaviour or,knowledge
|School-age,children (6-12 years)||•Ask questions about menstruation, pregnancy and,other sexual behaviour,
•Experiment with other children, often during,games, kissing, touching, showing and role playing e.g. mums and dads or,doctors and nurses
|•Touching private parts in public,
•Show adult like sexual behaviour or knowledge
|Adolescents||•Ask questions about relationships and sexual,behaviour,
•Use sexual language and talk between themselves,about sexual acts,
•Touch private parts when alone
|•Touch private parts in public,
•Have inappropriate contact with much younger,children or adults
What do you do?
1. Respond with care and urgency: Being sensitive and caring is important when dealing with the child. The child needs to know that the equation with you hasn’t changed because of this incident- that you still love and respect them. They also need to know that, as a family, steps are being taken to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
2. Believe the child: What often happens is that, adults don’t believe the child and think that the child is making it up for attention. We must remember that it is very unlikely that a child will suddenly have knowledge of inappropriate behaviour and be able to describe it unless they have either seen it or have had someone talk about it around them. Either way, this is good time to start asking questions and keep channels of communication open.
3. Be supportive: It is important to be supportive of the child. Each child deals with trauma in different ways. As the responsible adult, the onus is on us to make the healing process easy on the child. It is always better to manage our expectations rather than forcing the child to match up to our expectations.
4. Stay calm: Nothing can be more devastating as child abuse happening in our family but even as the child is in turmoil, it is important for the adults to stay calm and think rationally. Sometimes, complete healing for the child might be a long and arduous journey, it is therefore important for the primary care givers to also be receiving some healing- either in terms of support groups or personal/couple/family therapy.
5. Face the problem: Facing the problem ties in with being in a support group and/or receiving child/personal/couple/family therapy. Facing the problem also means dealing with the legal recourse. Trying to keep appearances of normalcy for society will only compound the issue and will also confuse the child.
6. Telling family and friends: can be an issue after an incident. The thing to keep in mind is the feelings of the child. Sometimes even asking the child’s permission to tell someone can help the child tremendously and also give the child a sense of control over the situation.
7. Re-establish safety: Once an incident of abuse has taken place, there is a break down in the belief of security in the family. It is important to re-establish safety norms to ensure that the child feels safe.
8. Get help: Getting appropriate help is crucial and will determine with speed of return to ‘normalcy’. Counseling services and receiving the correct and sensitive legal recourse are all part of getting help.
9. Do not despair: As traumatic as the incident is for the child and for the family, we need to remember that people have recovered and have lived successful lives. The key to achieving that is through immediate and sensitive help for the child and for the family.