By: Saad Hassan Qureshi
Children at any age are quite vulnerable to a lot of things that they experience outside their houses.
Karachi: Most recently we had a show running on “Hum TV” by the name of “UDAARI”. It was a breakthrough drama for our entire nation as it highlighted the biggest taboo prevailing in our society, “Child Abuse”. The show faced a lot of criticism in the beginning and PEMRA had even considered banning the show because of the bold plot of the drama. It was unacceptable for our society because this thing does exist in it yet nobody has the audacity to discuss it out in the open.
The show only highlighted the prevalence of child abuse and the presence of pedophiles in the rural areas. What we try to avoid even after getting so much awareness and being highly educated, is the presence of this social evil in the urban areas around us as well. This is just not limited to the lower sect of our society. This is an issue that is faced by many children in today’s times and till date nobody has the mouth to discuss this major issue out in the open.
Today in our Pakistani society as well, similar to the Western world, both the parents have to work to make ends meet. It is most likely that we leave our kids at day care centers or with family members at home, preferably grandparents, while we attend our jobs. This social evil exists anywhere and it is our duty to protect our kids from it in any manner. Child abusers or child molesters are most commonly those people that the child knows personally because it is easier to convince them and gain their confidence if you are familiar to the kid.
There are some major key points that one can consider in keeping their children safer from this social evil living amongst them:
Teach your child about inappropriate touching- If the child lives in a joint family, it is extremely important for you to convey it to them who are supposed to be close to them and who are not. At an early age, define it explicitly to them that nobody other than their parents is supposed to touch their “private areas”. Define the limitations and teach them what is considered a hard limit for touching them. They should be told that they have all the right over their body and they CANNOT allow anyone coming near them without their permission. And in case, if anybody tries to do, they should feel free to come to their parents and complain about it even if it’s another family member.
Observe every little change in your child’s behavior- If you do not get to spend much time with your child, but still notice every little change in their behavior patterns during the time you get to see them. Be inquisitive and open to them for any sort of discussion. The child who is being abused is probably given bribes and other kinds of rewards to not to open their mouths in front of their parents or anyone. It is important that you notice every single change in your child’s appearance and behavior and you inquire them immediately. Regularly communicate with them and ask them about their day, about the people they meet, about the new things they come across and never discourage them to communicate.
Make your child feel emotionally supported – Any child molester’s first key to getting their way into the child’s heart is by gaining their confidence and assuring it to them that this is their little secret and reinforce their behavior by giving some fruitful rewards. In such a situation, it is extremely important for the parents to show full support to their kids on an emotional level so that the kids come to their parents in any situation without hesitation. Many times, kids refrain from sharing with their parents and there is a bit of a communication gap due to fear of punishment. Parents need to make a strong emotional bond with their kids in order to gain their trust and become their confidante. The kids need to be reassured that no matter what happens their parents got their back and will be full supportive of them in any situation.
Be open to any sort of discussion with your child- The biggest evil in our society is the fear of discussing anything “sexual” with your children. We all can easily relate to this as none of us can ever discuss or question our parents anything relating to S-E-X. So we carry on with the upbringing of our further generations in the same school of thought. This discussion is prohibited until you yourself are not an Adult.
Children at any age are quite vulnerable to a lot of things that they experience outside their houses. It is in human nature, you wish to know why you are discouraged to do some things and it builds curiosity. This is normal. You experience many new things outside your house but never share it with your parents considering it’s not allowed and they may punish you.
This is exactly what needs to be changed, the barrier in communication between the parents and their young children. It is better if your children gain all kinds of information through their parents and their family. There is no harm in it if the sex education is initiated at home through the people they can trust the most. It is better if the child is made aware of child abusers that are present in our society and what are they capable of doing to them at home only. It is better if you encourage your child to discuss every little matter of their life with you since an early age. They should consider their parents as their confidante. You should never in any case discourage your child in sharing any kind of matter with you.
Trust your child- The main task for the parents is to have blind trust in what their child is expressing towards them. Many times we hear stories where the kids do inform their parents about the abuse they may face by another family member, and parents tend to ignore their child’s plea considering they are under aged and have no sense about anything. This is wrong. Parents need to trust their child and they should consider that whatever the kids are telling is the truth and take some prompt action against it as soon as possible. This is one major mistake that the parents make, is to mistrust their own child. In such situations, the child’s only saver is his parents and if they do not believe him, there is no saving the child from this social evil.
Make your child safe TODAY and make him aware of this horrific evil that lives in our society before they are made a victim to it.
The writer is a MBA student at IoBM.
Note: The views express in this article do not necessarily reflect SDLP policy.