Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Leave that child alone!

I was glancing through The Hindu’s supplement for children, the Young World and saw a whole page advertisement to educate children on sexual abuse. The NGO that brought out the advertisement also conducted an exhibition at Spencer Plaza, on the occasion of World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse. It’s great to see so much awareness in a country that normally hides sexuality under the carpet.

In fact, it was a few personal encounters with people who continue to suffer from psychological problems well into adulthood because they had been traumatised in childhood that led me to decide on Psychiatry as my choice of future specialisation long before any of my peers. Further clinical encounters and the knowledge of the scale of the problem and the preventability of future mental problems, reaffirmed my decision to pursue Child Psychiatry.

Though most of the research in this area have concentrated entirely on women, boys are no exception and you’ll be shocked to know that we live in a world where even parents may sexually abuse their own children! Some brutal tales are sure to send shudders down the spine of any average person and be a cause of endless pain and rage. Some of these data maybe shocking, but the truth does hurt...

· A World Health Organization report in 1999 stated that 1 in 10 children is sexually abused;
· A survey of 350 schoolgirls in New Delhi in 1997 revealed that 63% had experienced sexual abuse by family members;
· Another 1997 study on middle and upper class women from Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Goa revealed that 76% of respondents had been sexually abused as children, with 71% been abused either by relatives or by someone they knew and trusted;
· A 1996 study on students in Bangalore stated that 47% of the respondents had been sexually abused;
· A 2006 study by Tulir in Chennai found that 42% of the 2211 children surveyed, mostly adolescents, had been abused;

Stunned? Feel like puking? Or does it remind you of a dark day you always wanted to forget?

In any case it's very important that you teach your child how to recognise, protect from and report sexual abuse. It's also important for you to learn to recognise and listen to your child's problems.

Useful Web links:
Tulir - Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse: A great site & a must read!
Tulir's Blog
Indian Council for Child Welfare,Chennai