With the rise in awareness of sexual abuse of children, parents are deeply concerned about how to prevent abuse of their precious children. One method that is being propagated by some anti-abuse organizations, therapists, and doctors is for parents to correctly teach the names of private anatomy to their child, from the time of their infancy. The rationale is that if children know the words for their private parts, they will not feel shame about them and therefore will feel comfortable coming to an adult they trust to report if abuse happens. Another rationale is that many parents use silly, made-up names when referring to private areas, words which other adults wouldn’t know. It has been the case that children confide about abuse to other caretakers or teachers, and those adults have no idea what the child is talking about, because he or she is using a word they don’t recognize.
The Islamic guidance on this matter acknowledges that while parents should take many precautions to ensure the safety of their children, even speaking to them explicitly and clearly about certain matters in certain, extreme situations in developmentally appropriate ways, the approach of naming private areas from infancy is not in line with the principles of privacy, modesty, and subtlety, all of which would be assets in a child’s awareness of dangers in their environment.
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