Myth 1: Children are rarely abused in India, due to the Indian socio-cultural system
Fact: The Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India, PRAYS and UNICEF, 2007 reported that out of 12,447 children (hailing from all strata of society), 53% reported sexual abuse. Out of 12,447 children, 21% reported severe sexual abuse.
Myth 2: Boys are not susceptible to CSA.
Fact: Research also shows the incidence of sexual abuse of boys is also on the rise. 52% of boys and 47% of girls have reported sexual abuse of one form or the other. More boys than girls have reported severe form of sexual abuse.
Myth 3: Child sexual abuse occurs mostly in poor and illiterate families.
Fact: Research on reported incidents (from children and adult survivors) clearly indicates that child sexual abuse is a widespread problem affecting all strata of society.
Myth 4: Children lie and make up stories about sexual abuse
Fact: Children never lie about CSA. When a child comes to you reporting CSA always believe, trust, protect and support them.
Myth 5: CSA occurs in surrounding unfamiliar to the child.
Facts: Every child we know is vulnerable to sexual abuse even at home-house help/drivers/family members/neighbors. Children with disabilities are 3.4 times more likely to be abused compared with non-disabled children
Myth 6: Child Sexual Abuse starts only when the child is much older
Fact: One of the youngest victims of sexual abuse was a one and a half months old baby. However, in majority of cases, sexual abuse begins around 5 years of age, peaks at around 12 -14 years of age and then begins to decline (as per the Govt. report). It can, however, continue into adulthood in some cases.
Myth 7: 24 hour surveillance of the child will prevent sexual abuse
Fact: It is not possible for a single adult to look after a child 24 hours a day. It is much better to empower the child. The child can be taught personal safety, personal space rules, and safe and unsafe touch, just as we teach our children about how to protect the body from heat, cold, fire and injury. Ask the child to come and tell you if anyone ever breaks the body rules or if they experience an unsafe touch.
Myth 8: Explaining about personal safety (safe and unsafe touch) to the child will unnecessarily frighten the child
Fact: The child will not be frightened if we explain about personal safety as a choice and introduce the concept in a comfortable and non-threatening manner. We can tell the child that “your body belongs to you.” No one can touch you in a way you don’t like. (This includes pinching and slapping and hitting etc.)”.
Talk especially about the parts covered by the undergarments or swimsuit. How no one can touch them in those parts, except when keeping them clean and healthy (mother, doctor). Talk about personal space – the space around our body that we consider to be our own. Talk about safe and unsafe touch. Children are told about strangers and robbers and kidnappers. Similarly tell them about their body rules and personal space. Do not frighten the child. Explain that most adults want to help and protect children. There are a few ‘bad’ people who want to hurt children. We need to protect ourselves from such people.
Myth 9: If society gets to know of the abuse, the child have more to lose than the abuser
Fact: The silence of the abused and the people who know about it, is the main reason that sexual abuse continues. By exposing the abuser in a way which does not traumatize the child, helps the child to heal as well as stops other children from being abused. Everyone wants to “Look Good” and have a “good” reputation. The criminal has his reputation to lose. The child is a victim, blameless and innocent and will heal faster from the trauma if he / she perceives that justice has been done. Also important for the safe adults to form a union and handle this with sensitivity keeping the abused child in mind, by not telling other kids more than what they require to know, not targeting and isolating the abused child.