Never thought I would touch this touchy topic but a few weird (co)incidences over the past few days had me scurrying to my keyboard before I lose the train of thought or drive. SO here it is.
Instance 1: Evening visit to a nearby temple saw me warily glare at the temple priest who caressed the cheeks of all the bonny girl babies, and not the lil’ boys making me wonder why. Mothers smiled on indulgently while the lil’ kids tried hiding behind the dupatta or the palloo. The discomfort in some cases reminded me of the pedophilia scandal that has rocked the papacy.
Instance 2: This TIME article on abuse.
Instance 3: A debate with a good friend/colleague who has a eleven-year old on the parenting riddle. How strict is strict? How can you restrict Internet usage/police kids without alienating them? How much information is too much?
Following these episodes were several other hapchance conversations and incidents that finally led me to this post. Sexual abuse is so common and widespread and yet few dare to voice their thoughts or write about this still-taboo topic. Abuse in any form is vile, but abusing an innocent mind and violating their childhood is the worse form of abuse.
Abuse of Power vs Abuse of Trust. Aren’t they one and the same?! When a person in power abuses or violates you physically/emotionally/psychologically (s)he is abusing your trust. It is as simple as that.
Lunch table conversations with female friends/colleagues broach the topic but when men are around the topic is skirted around. Why? Yet, over the years male buddies/acquaintances have shared instances of abuse so this is one area which is free of gender bias.
Earlier days, a joint family set up to some extent protected kids, and in certain instances propagated abuse. It is always a well-known devil who sullies and loots more than a stranger. Some pointers I have gathered from conversations with various folks:
- Make the child aware of a good and bad touch
- Let them know it is OK to speak out, even if against family members
- HEAR them out before you close your mind or ears to what they say
- Learn to read their body language and watch out for changes in behaviour
- Sex education is important
- Remember to TEACH boys to respect girls and Girls to respect themselves
- Give them more control
I remember the fight our school authorities had to put up to introduce a module on sex education. Some parents even threatened to pull their kids out. These days though the pervasive nature of the Internet and satellite television means kids are aware of sex long before they reach puberty. Social media is the latest challenge parents are learning to cope with, in particular platforms like Orkut.
A wise friend shared this: Her 14-yr daughter insisted on having an Orkut account because everyone in her class did, and the school-leaving seniors wanted to add her on their ‘Friends’ list. No amount of playing the strict disciplinarian helped. The kid had Internet access at school, which was not having porn-filters or blocked/restricted access. This lady offered to open the Orkut account on condition that the child be aware of online dangers and issued some safeguards:
- Do not chat online with strangers
- Do not post/share personal information especially phone numbers, photos, residence address, school address and other details
- Restricted time on the Net
- Do not invite/accept invitations from people you do not know
- Finally, to drive home her point she showed/illustrated the lil’ girl with instances of kids becoming prey to pedophiles and how the virtual world can steal your real identity if used by the wrong people.
I came across TULIR during one of my story-hunting expeditions a few years back. Though unrelated to what I was looking for at the time, I have since supported their cause and this is an attempt to make more people aware of and accept that the evil of Sexual Abuse is very much there, and it is up to us to protect our young, and old so Life as it is meant to be can be cherished and LIVED…….. please do share your thoughts.