Children are parents' property ... Really?

Adults can express love to children in any way they want to. Do you agree?

Talking to your kids about sex is like showing the villain the way?

Hello, I'm Cindy Sirinya Bishop, Actress, MC, Writer. I'm the author of "My Body, My Rules". Being a mother is my principal career.

CINDY SIRINYA BISHOP
Actress/MC/Writer/Mother

You may wonder why Cindy, who is a model, an actress, and an MC is writing a children's book. It's because I've been in this field for more than 3 years. I've seen violence and sexual harassment against women and children, both at a national and international level.

Working in this field has made me realise that the major cause of sexual harassment in Thai society is a mindset that lacks respect and consent or even a safe space within a family. Time and again, we nurture boys to man up. We tell them not to cry, to keep emotions to themselves while telling our girls to be polite, humble, and don't make noise.

Moreover, we don't talk to our children about sex.

MY BODY MY RULES

No-one can deny that nowadays we see more cases of sexual harassment. Many occur to children. Our kids face threats from online media, friends, from school and strangers. Sometimes from teachers or adults as well. What is most saddening though is that sexual harassment can also be from family members.

We need to train our kids to understand that they have the right to their bodies. Similarly, they need to have the same respect for others. This is key for them to grow to become adults with emotional stability and with good foundations to foster relationships with others.

5 Rules to Protect the Rights to Your Body

On CI Talks today, I will introduce 5 easy approaches that parents can use to start talking to their children to instill awareness on rights to their bodies while respecting the rights of others.

Protect and use Proper Words for Private Parts

The first rule is that everyone has his and her private parts. Kids should learn the correct terms.

Kids should know what to call private parts of male and female bodies. We should talk openly with them. Just tell them they are penis and vagina. Why? Kids should have the correct information. One day, if they happen to be sexual harassed, they will be able to tell us which parts of their bodies were harassed. Their accounts may be beneficial to any investigation.

Our Private Parts are Private

Secondly, private parts must not be seen or touched. Kids should learn not to do that to others.

Sometimes, kids tease each other by touching genital areas which is perceived as being cute as peers are doing it. We need to change this mindset. If we don't foster it at the beginning that these parts shouldn't be touched, when they grow up, kids may not know or understand that they can refuse to be touched.

In fact, when kids can use the toilet by themselves, when they can wash themselves, that's when there's no longer any need for others to touch any part of their bodies. Your children will be able to look after and take care of their own bodies.

Let No One Enter Your Private Space Without Permission

Thirdly, no one can enter our private space unless given permission. And we should maintain spaces between each other.

A good way to explain to your kids is that a public place is where everyone can go. This includes a mall, a school or a supermarket. A private place is somewhere that only you have access to, like a bedroom or a toilet. If anyone wants to come into this private space, they need your permission.

This is a basic right that everyone has. Kids need to know this.

We have 100% Right to Our Bodies

Fourthly, your body belongs to you.

You have the right to decide who can touch and this applies to others as well. Hence, consent needs to be granted first. Kids need to understand that they have the right to refuse and consent is needed. In the future, the issue of consent will be crucial.

Commonly, we think that children are their parents' property. Parents may express love to their kids in any way they want. Sometimes parents force their kids to kiss elderly family members against their will.

There are many ways to show love and respect while being considerate of everyone's rights.

Understand the Difference of Good and Bad Touches

Fifth, we need to teach children to understand the difference between good and bad touches and know how to refuse.

Good touch refers to any touch that makes you feel warm, safe and understanding. We need to teach our kids to be aware also that bad touch is any touch that makes you feel unsafe or hurt. For example, when kids are bullied. Any touch that you don't give consent to, even cheek pinching, if you don't like it, that's a bad touch.

Most important though is touching private parts. If your kids encounter this, you need to tell them to refuse by saying "stop" or "no". Then try to get away from that incident. Don't keep it to yourself. Go and tell a trustworthy adult.

5 Takeaways to Help You Spark Change

I hope that the approaches I offer will help guide parents or inspire new ways to talk to your kids about sex. In the end, creating a safe family space within the family to have frank discussions on everything will help you instill change for your kids and our society.

Sexual harassment within family may sound serious but actually the solutions lie in front of us. It begins with you and your family.

CI Talks