Empowering kids against sexual abuse

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Last month, my family attended the Power2Kids (P2K) workshop to educate children on personal safety and empowerment against sexual abuse. Parents were encouraged to accompany their children.

The workshop is the brainchild of Yasmin Abdul Majid, whose background is in Development Psychology and Child Development. She initiated P2K to educate children and parents about child personal safety as she saw the need for something to be done, after increasing media reports about sexual predators and child sexual abuse.

Power2Kids is for children from 5-8 years old, Power2Tweens for children from 9-12, and Power2Teens for teenagers who are 13 years and older.

The particular workshop my husband and I attended with our two children was conducted by Anita Loi and Selena Tan, both of whom have diplomas in early childhood education. During the workshop, parents sat unobtrusively at the back while the children were seated at the front.

The best thing about this workshop was that it was detailed, yet not explicit. Parents didn’t have to worry that their kids would be exposed to information beyond their maturity level. Children were taught regarding the correct terms of their body parts, private areas of their body and also about what constitutes a “safe” versus an “unsafe” touch. Children were also taught that a person who abuses them can be someone they know and who has been nice to them. The concept of grooming was introduced to the children but in a way they could understand.

There were activities conducted during the workshop to reinforce what were the private areas of the body. Children were told that abuse is never their fault and they were taught what to do if they are ever in such a situation. For example, remove themselves from the situation (if possible), tell the person to stop, and confide in an adult they trust if the abuse has already occurred. They were taught that some secrets should never be kept and are bad secrets.

The children’s workshop was 1.5 hours long. After that, the trainers conducted an information session for parents only, covering children’s rights, various types of abuse, and red flags to look out for in a child who has been abused and groomed.

It is a huge topic and not easy to cover in that short time, but it gets the conversation going. It does drive home the message that this topic has to be discussed again at home and at school.

It is obvious that the trainers care very deeply about this subject matter and the importance of empowering children. As they say, knowledge is power. A child who is aware of his or her rights and has trusted confidants is an empowered child.

Sexual abuse is very common, yet continues to occur due to a conspiracy of silence and shame. Power2Kids is an excellent workshop that I do believe is a step in the right direction; giving kids their power in order to end child sexual abuse and exploitation. Yasmin Abdul Majid can be contacted via Facebook.

Dr Reshma Stanislaus