We need to keep an eye on our children

Editorial

The concern raised by Magistrate Cosmas Bidar yesterday on the rise in cases of sexual assaults of children coming before him is a timely warning to parents and guardians to protect the little ones better.
It is the parents and guardians, and teachers during schools, who are ultimately responsible for the children’s safety.
Parents should sit back and seriously ask themselves whether they are doing enough to protect the innocent, vulnerable little ones from the paedophiles roaming the neighbourhood, or the sick minds existing everywhere.
More and more we discover that they are own family members or those we take for granted as friends.
Our traditional way of upbringing restricts us from talking to our children early about body safety, and counselling them in a very simple way of the dangers they may face.
Magistrate Bidar’s concern should prompt parents to take preventative measures more seriously.
It is in the interest of children that they are armed with some knowledge that may save them from being victimised.
The advice is to talk to them more about body safety early, and stop thinking that they are too young.
Here are what experts say are accepted ways a parent can teach a child how to talk about body parts early:

  • Name body parts and talk about them very early.
    Use proper names for body parts, or at least teach your child what the actual words are for their body parts;
  • impress on the child that their private parts are called private because they are not for everyone to see.
    Explain that mummy and daddy can see them naked, but people outside of the home should only see them with their clothes on:
  • tell the child matter-of-factly that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask them to touch somebody else’s private parts.
    Sexual abuse often begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else;
  • tell the child that keeping body secrets are not okay.
    Most perpetrators will tell the child to keep the abuse a secret;
  • tell the child that no one should take pictures of their private parts;
  • teach the child how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations.
    It is okay to tell an adult to leave if something feels wrong;
  • have a code word the children can use when they feel unsafe or want to be picked up;
  • tell the children they will never be in trouble if they tell you a body secret; and,
  • Also tell the child that these rules apply even with people they know and even with another child.

Repeat the discussion with the child so that they fully understand what they need to do.
Experts say the best time to reiterate these messages are during bath time or when the child is running around naked.
These are very simple advice and ways for parents to protect our children.
We often leave them unprotected at times when in the company of others, even family, unaware of the dangers which exist.
Magistrate Bidar attended to more than 10 cases yesterday.
It should concern us all, not only the parents but everyone else who may come across the suspicious action of an adult, or something out of line in which a child is involved.
The key is to prevent these acts of evil from happening again in our society.

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