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Bangalore rape incident -- what to do when the worst has happened?

child sex abuseThe Bangalore rape incident where a Class 1 student was raped, allegedly by a teacher has shook the nation. In a country which is uncomfortable talking about sex, child sex abuse usually gets shoved under the rug. The first there really was a national debate on the issue was when an episode of Aamir Khan's Satyamev Jayate which dealt with the issue. The thing is that child sex abuse will remain an issue till we acknowledge the fact that it's there. Here's a look back at a series of articles Gayatri Aiyyar, a counselling psychologist who works with children wrote for us:

Child sex abuse it's very much there

The first step of the process is to acknowledge that child sex abuse is real. 53% Indian children are abused sometime in their life. Sexual abuse of a child is difficult to define due to varied forms of the abuse. The two main terms associated when talking about sexual abuse of a child are the child victim (any child, male or female under the age of 16 usually; age varies according to medical, legal or psychological definitions) and the perpetrator or offender (any adult male or female or child's peer or another minor).

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What constitutes child sex abuse?

Touching sexual offenses include:

  • fondling of a child's body, especially genitals
  • making a child touch an adult's sexual organs
  • oral-genital contact
  • vaginal or anal penetration (medical purpose not included)
  • sexual deviations.

Non-touching sexual offenses include

  • engaging in indecent exposure or exhibitionism
  • voyeurism
  • exposing children to pornographic material
  • deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse
  • masturbating in front of a child.

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Some common indications of child sex abuse:

Parents can look for these indicators in child's behaviours with peers or adults in their family and surroundings:

  • The child tends to avoid or fear an adult or peer or any older child
  • Child going back to early childhood behviours like thumb sucking, bedwetting
  • Suddenly the child shows obsessive or compulsive behaviours like bathing or hand washing 10 to 15 times a day
  • Child has difficulty in sitting or walking
  • Refusing to participate in physical education activities
  • Withdrawn behaviours
  • Sexually inappropriate communication (postures, gestures, talk)
  • Sudden change in dressing style (either wearing shapeless and large clothes to hide body or provocative dressing).
  • Sleep disorders
  • Self destructive behaviours (head banging, drug abuse, obesity, anorexia)
  • Sudden problems in school no interest in school activities
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Loss of appetite

What should parents or near and dear ones do if a child has been sexually abused?

First and foremost, try to understand what the child is saying and believe that the child is telling you the truth, even if there have been instances of the child lying or making stories in the past. I will reiterate that in case of doubt, seeking help from a psychologist or medical professional, trained in identifying cases of sexual abuse is of utmost importance.

  • Give your child a safe environment
  • Tell the child it's not his/her fault
  • Get a medical exam done

Pic Source: Getty Images

Also read other articles in the child sex abuse series:

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