The world is full of vices today. It is especially difficult for women to survive here, let alone young girls. Every day we hear instances of abduction, abuse, rape and sexual harassment in all places for women – at home, office and even in school.
Should girls then cower in fright and hide in a corner? Or should they be dependent on the male figures like fathers, brothers, friends, and relatives?
Neither of these options is practically possible moreover, they are downright wrong. Women have to learn to survive in this vicious world. They have to learn to combat not only harassment but also sexual exploitation while moving ahead in their career or activity.
Parents are acutely anxious about sending their young daughters into the outside world. However, young girls have to spread their wings in order to flourish in their career and life. What is the solution then?
The solution is to create awareness in the minds of young girls about sexual advances and exploitation. Most often, very young girls are not even aware that somebody is abusing them sexually. This happens when the offender is a known person – a friend, neighbour or relative. This is when sexual awareness has to be taught.
As a parent, teaching your daughter about ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’ is very crucial. Let us begin by first understanding the difference ourselves.
What is Good Touch?
A “good touch” is one that is not offensive and uncomfortable to a girl. Every touch that a girl feels must be with her full and conscious permission.
If a person touches a girl, they should do only after knowing or ascertaining fully well that she would not object to it.
This is the rule for even fathers, brothers, uncles, or grandfathers. No family member, relative, neighbour, or friend can touch a girl without her permission. If they continue to do so after her objection, it is termed as a sexual offence.
The following are considered as good or safe touches:
- Holding your hand
- Patting your back
- Putting an arm around your shoulders
Helping you in an injury like carrying you if you faint or removing a thorn or splinter from your leg might hurt but help is necessary here. This too should not prolong for more time than necessary.
Generally, good or safe touches are those touches which your child does not find objectionable.
What is Bad Touch?
The term ‘bad touch’ means any touch that the child objects to and which affects the child in a negative way. Bad touch is a broad term which can be classified into 2 categories.
Unsafe or harmful touches
Pushing, elbowing, pinching, kicking, etc. are touches which hurt the child. These abusive touches might harm the child and are termed unsafe.
Parents must teach their girls that such kind of touches should be strongly objected to. Girls must openly protest against such unsafe touches.
The intent is important. Touching with intent to harm is a criminal offence. Not all touches are harmful and they may have touched by accident. Make sure you determine the intent before acting.
Unwanted or offensive touches
Touching girls in the wrong places or their private parts, kissing them or hugging them without their consent, etc. fall under this category.
Girls must be taught from a very young age to say a strong ‘no’ to such touches. Even if close family members like a girl’s father touches the girl in a wrong way, she must know to say a polite but firm “no”.
Although one might argue that a father has the liberty to touch his own daughter, try to make the girl understand that even a father has his limits. In these days of parental sexual abuse, girls must be taught to be on guard always.
Difference Between a Touch and a Caress
First, teach your daughter the difference between a touch and a caress.
A touch is a light or casual physical contact.
A caress is an intended and purposeful physical contact with a romantic or sexual intention.
Make your child understand the difference. Girls are very shrewd and have an uncanny ability to sense a “caress” when they feel one. They express it as “I feel uneasy” or “I felt like caterpillars were crawling on me” or “I felt like puking”.
Tell them to protest strongly against such caresses and move away from the scene. They should not ignore what happened, brush it off, and move on. Characters of such predatory nature should be reported to the police and justice should be served. There should be no place for them in our society.
Ways to Teach Your Daughter About Good and Bad Touch
- First, make you understand that she is the owner of her body. Tell her that her body is solely hers and no one, including parents or siblings, have the right to touch her without her permission. Ask her to express loudly her objection if she does not like the touch makes her uncomfortable.
- Teach your girl what her ‘private parts’ are. For very young girls, use the phrase “all that your undies cover”. This makes them understand that all the parts covered by undergarments are deemed private.
For slightly older girls, use the phrase “all that a swimsuit covers”. This gives them a clear idea of where they should not be touched even casually. However, just because she wasn’t touched in a private part doesn’t automatically make it a good touch.
- Teach the girl that sometimes adults (like parents, babysitters, relatives or siblings) may help the child to change their diaper or clothing or bathe them or clean them after they use the bathroom. Make the child understand the difference between “helping” and “touching unnecessarily or for a long time”.
- Teach them that strangers must be dealt with caution and alertness. Even a neighbour or friend come under the stranger category when it comes to touches. Educate the child that strangers do not have the liberty to touch the child unnecessarily. Teach the girl to maintain a physical distance right from the start.
- A touch from even close relatives can sometimes be offensive. Even uncles and brothers have been known to sexually harass girls at a young age. Motivate the child to speak out against such atrocities even if they are from close kith and kin.
- Educate the child that for unsafe touches, she has to act as follows
- Ask the other person to stop touching. It may have been an accident.
- If the other person persists, strongly object in a loud voice.
iii. Scream and attract attention.
- If no help is around, run away from the scene.
- Immediately report to parents, teachers or even the police.
- Never hide such things from parents.
vii. Do not feel ashamed as you did nothing wrong.
Most importantly, talk to your child in a casual manner while giving this advice. Make the child feel comfortable first and then educate. If the child does not want to talk about it, take up the topic at another time. Create a friendly atmosphere at home or school where the child can open up to you.
The significance of saying “NO”
Teach your daughter that is perfectly fine to say “NO” – in fact, it is her right not to accept any situation that is uncomfortable for her or that diminishes her self-esteem or her personal space.
Remember as a parent, you are the best protector of your child. But teach your child that self-help is the best help. Teaching your daughter about good and bad touch is highly necessary in today’s world and the sooner you do it, the better.
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