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In today’s world, where child violence cases are on the rise, it is crucial to equip children with the tools they need to speak up and establish personal boundaries. When a child doesn’t feel safe around an adult, empowering them becomes paramount for their well-being. Here are five ways to help children:

Teach Personal Boundaries: Educate children about personal boundaries and let them know that it’s perfectly okay to say “No” when they feel uncomfortable. Encourage them to assert their boundaries in a calm and respectful manner. This skill will prove invaluable in various life situations.

Identify Trusted Adults: Help children identify other adults they trust and feel safe with. These individuals can be family members, friends’ parents, mentors, or school counselors. Make sure children understand that it’s perfectly acceptable to ask these trusted adults for help. Establish a pre-agreed code word with a parent or trusted adult, allowing children to discreetly signal when they need help.

Trust Their Gut Feeling: Empower children to trust their instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, let them know it’s their right to remove themselves from the situation. Assist them in creating a plan for leaving uncomfortable situations safely. Ensure they know the safe spaces, such as at home, school, or a neighbor’s house, where they can seek refuge. Familiarize them with emergency phone numbers.

Role-Playing Scenarios: Parents can engage in role-playing with children, allowing them to practice asserting themselves and expressing discomfort to the adult involved. Encourage children to confide in parents, friends, or individuals who can provide emotional support. Reinforce that feeling unsafe is never their fault, as no child should shoulder blame for an adult’s inappropriate actions.

Maintain a Diary: Suggest that children keep a diary to document any incidents or uncomfortable situations. This diary can serve as a tool to facilitate communication and keep track of what’s happening. Teach children self-care and relaxation techniques like deep breathing, creative visualization, or mindfulness exercises to help manage anxiety and stress.

Above all, prioritize the child’s safety. If their safety is at risk, do not hesitate to involve the relevant authorities. By implementing these strategies, we can empower children to protect themselves and communicate effectively in challenging situations.

Re-reported from the article originally published in The Indian Express

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