[Romania] When you get older? Being uninformed makes you more vulnerable

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05 Nov 2019

Éva László, a lecturer at the Hungarian Institute of Sociology and Social Work at the BBTE, gave a lecture to parents and educators on how to inform your child about sexual abuse, as part of the Sunflower program of the János Zsigmond Unitarian College in Cluj-Napoca.

Parents are uncertain about how to approach the subject, and they often are afraid that the child’s interest in sexuality will be reinforced rather than informed.

From preschool age, there may be situations in which children need to be prepared, their lack of awareness makes them vulnerable, and they can ore easily involved in things that can cause problems. That is why it is important to start sex education at this age.

According to the expert, it is very important for parents to set boundaries, to clarify what should be done at home at what can be done in public places. It is also important to explain who, when and how can touch them. Don’t lie to the child and what you say should be credible and also the adult should act accordingly. If the child is aware of the boundaries and what is permissible, it will be easier to say no in an unpleasant situation.

Most abuses are committed by a trustee in the child’s environment, so it is very important that the child is aware of these boundaries. It is essential for the child to know what is a good or bad bodily feeling, since the most common type of abuses leave no trace, like stoking, touching, oral sex, so the child who can judge that this is a bad, unwanted touch is much more protected.

In addition, it is important for children to be able to distinguish between the “good secret” and the “bad secret”, as abusers often are persons close to the family and disguise abuse as confidential, secret play.

Even regarding adolescents, there is uncertainty and confusion in parents’ behaviour. What to do when teenagers kiss per example? The situation is exacerbated by the fact that children have free access to pornography, and more uninformed kids are exposed to harassment and shaming by their peers.

At his age, adolescents are keeping a bigger distance from their parents and ashamed to ask for help. According to the expert, it is important for the parent to devote quality time to the adolescent and find opportunities to discuss important topics.

Taking the adolescent’s phone and reading his/her conversations is not the right answer to the online space harassment, because this way we broke the trust and violate his/her intimacy.

At this age, the rape is present as a form of abuse, so it is important for our child to be aware of boundaries, intimacy and dare to say no.

A study found that in Romania 48 per cent of children would not tell anyone if they were a victim of sexual abuse. And there are several reasons why:

-children are afraid that if they speak up, it will be worse for them than before,

-that the perpetrator will avenge the “betrayal”,

-because they are ashamed of what happened,

-they don’t know who they can contact or ask for help,

-they are afraid of not being believed.

The research also asked children what is the desirable adult behaviour. Responders said it is important for adults to take them seriously, listen to them, stop the occurring violence, treat the issue confidentially, and believe in them.

This project is funded by: