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Parents must spend more time with kids to correct their sexual behaviour: Experts

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In the wake of Delhi school incident, mental health experts say parents must keep a tab on what their children watch on TV and internet.

New Delhi: Exposure of children to adult sexual behaviour through TV and internet, a lack of parental guidance and decreasing recreational time in families could lead to incidents like the one that took place in a Delhi school recently, say mental health experts.

In the latest case, a four-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by one of her classmates.

“A four-year-old does not know anything about sex or sexuality. It would be wrong to say that a kid has raped his classmate; we should not sensationalise such incidents,” Dr Rajiv Mehta, consultant psychiatrist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, told ThePrint.

“Children want to explore things; they wish to repeat what they their parents do or what they view on cellphones and laptops. In some cases, they want to imitate the act of those who abused them earlier,” he added.

According to the experts, decreasing recreational time in families and “abnormal learning” of adult behaviour by children are some factors behind the rising number of sexual abuse incidents involving children.

Dr Nand Kumar, professor of psychiatry, AIIMS, calls it “normative child sexual behavior”.

“Children do such thing out of curiosity or imitation. They are not aware of any sexual feelings. In the Delhi incident, it is child-on-child-abuse. It’s not even the age of puberty, thus it cannot be associated with rape,” he said.

Kumar said there are several issues that need to be addressed in terms of changing sexual behaviour among children.

“Causes can be different. Chances are that a child doing such an act may himself be a victim or he is imitating someone. It is abnormal social learning,” Kumar said.

“We are not able to understand where to separate ourselves. It indicates something is grossly wrong in the social transformation,” he added.

In the Delhi incident, the mother of the victim has accused the school authorities of negligence. Even the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights has reportedly summoned the school principal.

Jasmeet Chandok, counsellor at Springdales School, said they hold workshops for younger children to help them know their body parts. “We teach them how to distinguish between a ‘good touch’ and a ‘bad touch’,” she said.

“No matter how much you watch over them, they may sometimes come in contact with helpers or bus conductors while boarding or alighting from school bus. Thus, it is necessary to make them aware,” Chandok added.

Dr Mehta said parents must play a bigger role in correcting the behaviour of the child involved in such acts. “The right way to handle such a situation is to talk. Families should also sit amicably and discuss the problem and not traumatise.”

Parents should keep a tab on what the kids watch on TV and internet, he said. “Regulating internet content is a must. It is the duty of parents not to expose kids to films and TV serials with sexually explicit content.”

“In case of internet use, cookies must be cleaned from gadgets to create a healthy and safe learning environment for kids,” he added.

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