(Blog Notes from December’s Boost your Iman Series)
We live in a world where it has become increasingly challenging to keep our children safe from all forms of molestation. While we as believers should place our trust in Allah and seek HIS protection over them, we still have the onerous task of taking all necessary steps to ensure that they do not suffer abuse.
Our children are an amanah entrusted upon us by Allah (SWT) and we have a duty to fulfill it as best as we can.
Knowledge they say is power. Knowing exactly what we are up against and how to combat it is very important in this matter.
Sister Marita Davies sought to shed more light on this as she took the sisters through the topic Good touch Bad touch.
Here are some notes from her interesting and enlightening lecture:
- The aim of the lecture is to create the awareness that sexual abuse happens even in Muslim families.
- It is not just about ‘stranger danger’; 90% of the cases are perpetrated by people known to the kids and/or their families.
- Kids are sometimes threatened by their molesters that they would hurt members of their family if they speak out even though they have no such power. Unfortunately, the kids often believe this.
- In the 1950s, child sexual abuse was so rampant that most kids then thought it was a normal thing. At the time, there was stigma attached to speaking out regarding this. These days however, there is awareness and counselling to assist those affected. The aim is that kids should be able to approach their parents with their concerns especially regarding sexual abuse.
- Parents on their part should encourage their kids to talk to them if they have any worries. They should also listen attentively to the kids when they have something to say.
- Perpetrators are usually victims themselves who do it because they are still trying to figure out why their perpetrators did it to them and what they derived.
SEXUAL BEHAVIOURS IN YOUNG CHILDREN
What is normal?
-Touching selves in kids is normal.
-Looking at others’ private parts innocently and out of curiosity.
-Hugging, kissing (innocently).
- The perpetrator may make the victim feel special and tell them that such acts are a little secret between them. This may prompt the child to tell his/her parents or care-giver that he/she has a secret with someone. If this happens, we should ensure that we have a discussion with the child and get to the bottom of the matter.
- Bedwetting: A child who was not bedwetting before could suddenly begin to do so regularly. It could also be a case of a significant increase in the frequency for a child previously known to wet the bed.
- Unwillingness to undress by little kids
- A sudden onset of nightmares.
- Mimicking the sex act. This should be investigated.
- If they start causing physical pain to themselves.
WHAT TO DO
- We should note that it is normal for kids to explore their private parts out of curiosity.
- Question your kids and acknowledge their feelings. Let them know that you are their best friend and always willing to listen to them.
- Note that kids will learn from listening to other kids talking.
- A lot of times, kids talk to others except their parents.
- When your child asks a question on sexual matters, answer simply and ask them to confirm if they understand what you said.
- We should start teaching kids between ages 3 and 5 about the private parts and protecting them. In doing this we should:
- Use correct names for the different parts of the body. Make it very clear to them what parts of the body are private.
- Teach them total respect for and reinforce modesty.
- Let kids dress modestly at all times.
- Don’t force your kids to give anyone a hug or kiss.
- Explain what good and bad touches are while bearing in mind that child molestation sometimes doesn’t feel bad.
- Let them know it’s alright to hit or run away from danger.
- Control the media the kids are exposed to.
IF YOUR CHILD REPORTS TO YOU THAT THEY ARE BEING MOLESTED:
- First listen to your child and observe them. Be calm and stay focused on what they are telling you.
- Believe what your child says. Kids are innocent and sincere in expressing their feelings.
- What the child needs most at the time is your reassurance. Remember, they are the victim.
- Usually the victim is a victim over a period of time. They may have found it pleasurable and feel guilty for allowing it to happen.
- You may have to bring in a trusted family member to help you.
- Be careful not to put words in their mouth.
- Try not to show disapproval.
- Keep the child away from the perpetrator.
- Re-establish the safety of the child.
- Establish your boundaries. You are the parent, you decide what is best for your kids.
- Let them know that you feel for them as the victim.
- Reassure them that something will be done about the matter.
- Give them permission to feel what they are feeling. Let them know that it is alright to be upset about what has happened.
- Give them permission to say NO to either the perpetrator or anyone else.
- Help them to get over self-blame.
- Sexual abuse and molestation is not just physical, it can be psychological and so on. Build up their self-esteem.
What do you do if you find out a family member is molesting your child?
It is important to bear in mind in such a situation that if something happens in the family, every member is affected. The following are options to explore in such cases:
1. Go and speak to the perpetrator.
2. Speak to some close relatives/friends.
3. Speak to your husband/spouse.
4. Go to the police. The biggest trauma comes after reporting.
Whatever you do, remember that the consequences of not reporting is exposing someone else to this danger in the hands of the perpetrator.
Being in denial is a natural reaction. However, the choices you make will affect your child’s future.
Islamically, we have to have proof except the perpetrator admits. However, the perpetrator has to be stopped.
As soon as you can, nip inappropriate behavior in the bud.
May Allah assist us to keep our children safe and do what is right for them at all times, ameen.