My heart aches when I hear incidents of child abuse happening to boys and girls as young as five years old. They deserve to laugh carelessly with their friends, cry over melted ice cream, ring doorbells of neighbors and run away, play football and cuddle with their soft toy. I can’t begin to imagine what the families go through and the agony slits my throat. Why have we failed to nurture our society? Where have we failed as parents? Why could we not teach our men to respect others, to control their emotions and hormones, to be good human beings? Is it too much to ask for?
They say strict parents raise the best liars! If your child is scared of you, he shall never share his problems with you. He might be afraid of your scolding, of being misunderstood because you did not foster that trust and comfort between yourselves, and you let him suffer the pain in silence. The last time someone touched your daughter’s private parts, she remained quiet because she did not know how to talk about sexual or physical violence. When your son’s tutor squeezed him between his legs, he chose to ignore it, because he thought you won’t believe him. When our children are abused, especially by relatives as it often happens, they never speak about it because we have not taught them to. They continue to be abused and we never find out. As parents, we are focused on giving a luxurious life to our children such that we have forgotten to give then trust, comfort, warmth, love, and compassion.
But, sometimes the parents are not aware of the cruel world out there! Who can imagine fathers exploiting their daughters?! My hands shiver as I wrote the last sentence because growing up in a good family, I cannot believe such things happen within the premises of one’s home. Therefore, the parents do not think, in their wildest imaginations, that anything of such gravity can happen to their children. And that’s what we need to work on! We need to make our parents well-aware of the ill that is happening around us and make them believe that it happens so often that we cannot shut our eyes to it. It doesn’t only happen in uneducated families or by illiterate people, it happens everywhere. Around us, to us! We need to shake our parents and walk them through the incidents and stories of child abuse for them to be more active in identifying symptoms.
You must talk to your children about their privacy and personal space. They are fragile and unable to differentiate between a good touch and a bad touch, especially when it comes from someone at home. Parents and teachers need to develop a relationship with their children, do not unnecessarily scream or yell at them, and make them feel loved, so they are able to talk about their concerns.
Here are some of the things adults need to do, to prevent cases of child abuse:
- Children are unable to talk about a bad touch because they do not know how to refer to the body parts. How would they tell you where someone touched them if they do not know what to call those parts? You don’t necessarily have to keep a session of body awareness, but it could be a part of the basic learning, such as identifying ears, nose, and more.
- Do not stop your children from complaining about adults. Teach them that the adults are not always right because everyone makes mistakes. Sometimes let yourself be wrong and tell your child that he was right instead. This builds a trust in children that they can complain about adults and that you would be willing to understand. Teach them to talk about anything they feel is wrong, even if it is an adult, and that it is not disrespectful nor misbehaving.
- Tell your children that they do not have to talk or play with someone they are not comfortable with. Their opinion matters when it comes to caretakers, or who they want to go in the car with. Make them believe that just because you see us talking to someone, or see them around the house, does not mean you have to be friends with them as well. It is your choice and you can tell us otherwise.
- Set some rules for your children, such as not allowing them to tell someone if they are home alone or that their parents leave them alone in the house. Tell your children not to listen to someone who asks them to stop playing with everyone and come with him. They should tell you if someone offers them money or food for listening to them.
- Stop your children from sitting on someone’s lap. Make sure that your children understand that unnecessary physical contact is not a good thing. Ask your children to let you know if someone insists on touching them.
- The monsters who commit child abuse warn children to keep it from their parents. Ask your children to talk to you if anybody asks them to keep secrets from you.
Child abuse is the worst form of abuse that a society can face. But, as adults and responsible citizens, we need to stop hiding from it. The more we talk about it, the more aware people will be.
Let us decide to protect our children from all evils and to nurture them such that they only spread love in the world.