Your child is in danger- What to do about it

By Shahana Shah 

The most recent case of an eight year old child’s abuse and murder has elicited a strong social response in Gilgit city. There have been protests in the streets as well as a lot of debate in the social media. All of this is a good indication of our collective conscience. However, we need to go a step ahead and do something practical that might help prevent such events in the future.

Usually we hear criticisms of the police and the legal system for their failure in delivering justice. Yet, it is the collective responsibility of all social institutions to fight crimes against vulnerable sections of society such as children, and particularly in the case of sensitive issues like sexual abuse. Even if one child is molested, harassed or abused, the blame would equally rest with all of us.

What are some of practical steps that can be taken in this regard? The social institutions most responsible for the emotional as well as physical safety of children are schools and the family. It is time parents realized the importance of having frank and informative conversations with their children, both about their own sexual growth and the dangers that may exist in their environment. Children must be taught to recognize threatening situations. They must be able to identity predatory behavior and taught defensive responses.

Our schools also need to counsel young boys and girls, if not as a regular part of the curriculum then as specially held sessions, engaging psychologists and other experts. Teachers can play a very useful role by staying vigilant and responsive to any harmful activities that students in their care might be involved in.

One very significant error to correct is our society’s fault in assuming that since we ensure maximum segregation of sexes at schools and social gatherings, it is enough to protect the morality of young men and women. Our children must realize that unwanted attention and contact can just as easily come from their own gender as from the opposite sex. In fact, this intense segregation might be one of the reasons behind compulsive predatory behavior resulting from sexual frustration.

Another probable source of triggering sexual offenses is unsupervised access to communication media, whether it leads to contact with dangerous individuals in real life or in the virtual world. Parents must be vigilant against pornography. They must know who their children hang out with and what they do when they get together. Here again we usually see a negligent attitude towards male children’s activities while severe observation of girls’ movements and activities is the norm.

Both girls and boys are equally vulnerable to sexual predators. In most cases the offender is someone the child knows from his or her close social circle or extended family. This menace can only be fought if we stay vigilant and realize that it is the responsibility of us all to protect children. There can be nothing more evil than a crime against children, and nothing more worth protecting than their innocence and life.


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  1. Really commendable and well articulated article…it has been for long a taboo topic in Pakistan, attempts to discussing such critical topics are usually wrongly interpreted. Rais Amruhi a columnist and psychologist, had reported in one of his books published in 1975, that I receive hundreds of letters on daily basis whereby youth express their problems and seek guidance in some of the issues they are facing. It is noteworthy that it was a time when there was no TV, internet and even the literacy rate was even very low. Now in the presence of TV, Internet and other gadgets the issues of youths definitely have been multiplied many times. Unfortunately such cases rarely reported due to various reasons…, mostly, talking about such issues are viewed as spreading behayayi or shamelessness…that is why such issues are usually put under carpet…

  2. First of all, I highly appreciate the views and suggestions Shahana has highlighted. I fully agree to the point that we as a nation or society need to be aware and play our role in addressing such issues from the family to the educational institutions and to the society. While we as a society are at crossroads of modernity and globalization where it is very difficult to balance our lives under the influence of different forces including media, development, globalization, cross cultural influence, untrained educating institutions etc. A balanced family can lead to a balanced generation, a balanced school education can lead to a balanced youth and a balanced youth can lead to a balanced society. I suggest that there is a need to address these issues collectively which is called in Urdu as “min haisul qaum”. Why not can we start to hold seminars and rallies collectively from time to time to highlight such issues which is a humble suggestion for all of us including the writer herself.

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