Teach Your Child to “Say NO to Bad Touch, Learn SAFE TOUCH”
By: Geetaloshiny Balasingam, Master of Public Health Candidate 2017/18, Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya
SAFE TOUCH is a strategy used in preventing child sexual abuse (CSA). SAFE TOUCH can be taught by parents, care givers or educators to children as young as pre-school in order to familiarize them with the types of good and bad touches. Good touches are those given by people children trust the most, especially those who care and nurture them e.g. parents. Bad touches, on the contrary are unsafe touches given by strangers and in some instances by family or care provider. Unsafe or bad touches are considered ‘dirty’ and tarnishes a child’s self esteem and confidence. Unsafe touches will lead to psychological disturbances and requires good healing therapy especially after an episode of CSA.
The Five Components of Safe Touch
- SAFETY NETWORK
- Ensure each child has a SAFETY NETWORK that comprises of the most trusted family members e.g. father, mother and other first degree relatives.
- Safety Network is necessary for child to share their stories and to encourage parent-child relationship. Simple questions like ‘How was your day at school?’ is all needed for a child to open up and share relevant stories.
- EMPOWER CHILDREN TO SAY ‘NO’
- Encourage children to say NO to unsafe touches. This include touching on private parts, kissing or hugging by strangers or unsafe family members. Children should be told that they are the boss of their body & have the rights to refuse kissing/hugging/touching any adult. They should inform their safety network if the child’s rights are violated.
- PRIVATE PART
- Ensure children are aware of their private parts. NO ONE should touch their private body parts i.e. mouth, chest, area between the legs and buttocks unless it is the most trusted people such as their mother or by a medical professional in the presence of the child’ s parent. NO ONE should touch their private part and THEY SHOULD NEVER TOUCH THE PRIVATE PARTS OF OTHERS (even upon told by adults), NO ONE should show any pornography to children and take pictures of their body parts. They should inform their safety network if the child’s rights are violated. They should consult their teacher or educator/ other family members if unsafe touches come from the most trusted family member (father for instance). Keep telling your safety network until they listen and take actions against the perpetrator
- HAVING SECRETS
- Sometimes the perpetrators might get the children gifts to keep them from telling anything. Gifts are given as a means to keep them quiet (in short). Each child should inform their parents/ care taker if anyone asks them to keep a ‘dirty’ secret.
- SHOUT LOUD
- Ensure children are told to shout loud if anyone approaches them in an unsafe manner and always inform their safety network.
In the Malaysian setting, if CSA is identified, consider connecting Talian Kasih as part of the social welfare department at 15999 to report any child abuse including sexual assault. Presence of NGO in Malaysia such as Protect & Safe (PS) Children (http://www.psthechildren.org.my/) based in Klang valley is substantial especially in strengthening hope and support amongst those children and adolescent exposed to sexual abuse. Programmes such as healing and peer support groups are available to provide appropriate counselling & improvement in self-esteem.
- Prevention Begins at Home : Teaching Children About Safe Touch
- http://summitcounseling.org/blog/prevention-starts-at-home-teaching-children-about-safe-touch/ accessed on 25th November 2017
- Teaching Children About Safe Touch https://www.ololchildrens.org/body.cfm?id=447 accessed on 25th November 2017
- Video Presentation KOMAL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD4J6_mdbHo accessed on 25th November 2017