Monday, February 27, 2012


In all societies, it is the children who are most vulnerable and therefore most at risk. Parental anxieties are usually two fold, one is about losing their child and the other is about sexual abuse. However parents themselves are in a dilemma to deal with this and often feel helpless and dismiss it off. The important thing is to realize that your anxieties are not unfounded. This is quite evident in India. Consider the facts given below:
• The national average rate for crimes against children was 2.3 per 100,000 people; In Madhya Pradesh 18.4% of all crimes were crimes against children; Delhi, 13.6%
• Kidnapping and Abduction cases represent 40.3% of crimes against children
• Rape cases represent 20.5% of crimes against children
• The states of Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra accounted for35.2% of child rape cases.
• 8.9% of all rape victims (women and children) were girls under the age of 14 (p.83)
• In 97.3% of all (22,172) rape cases, offenders were known to the victims (family members, relatives, neighbours)

Two glaring factors are that kidnaping and sexual abuse constitute majority amongst the crimes against children, confirming general anxieties experienced by parents. But what parents do not know is that this is often because children are uninformed of what to do in a given situation. Although it is primary concern of parents, parents themselves are not sure whether their concern is justified or not. Well the statistics atleast clears off that confusion. Secondly parents do not want to unnecessarily inhibit or alarm their children, often not knowing how to broach the uncomfortable subject. Well, can you imagine how uncomfortable or confused a child may feel when he/ she sense something amiss. Infact often we feed to our children ‘parents know the best’ or ‘you will not understand as you are a kid’. Information, if provided in a right manner can be the best defense that you could provide for the child. Remember self-help is always the fastest in such situations.
So here are some eye openers for you parents, children are much attuned to their emotions and often ‘sense’ danger although they may not have reasoning behind it. If you as parents have developed an environment where in the child is able to convey his or her feelings with complete trust that you will listen and empathize then the child is likely to warn you. This is especially true in case of sexual abuse as revealed in the statistics most offenders of sexual abuse are often known members or people who have access to the children. However children are unable to protect themselves or inform their parents in advance because they haven’t been taught to think on their feet in a novel situation like this, its never been discussed. Or because they are scared that the parents will either dismiss their concerns or get angry at them, especially if the person concerned is someone known to the family and it so appears that the parents trust them around their children. Children are not taught to trust their own emotions of discomfort, something that begins in little things like ‘you will not feel hungry, you must eat when its time to eat’ or ‘you don’t know whats good for you, we have much more life experience than you’. These messages convey the message to the children that they should not trust their feeling but must rely on the judgment of the parents. Often these abuses continue for a long period of time as children feel responsible for what happened to them and come under threat or black mail of the offender, unable to stop further abuse.

Parents therefore need to talk to their children about their emotions and give them respect in day to day situations. Parents also need to convey trust to their child by informing them in advance that they will at least get a listening ear no matter what the situation or who they are talking about. They also need to help child differentiate between good touch and bad touch and also about who is a stranger and who is not. Often in cases of kidnapping the kidnapper stalks the child for a while and the child may even see you talk to the stranger. They are unable to differentiate between acquaintance and strangers.

Younger children may get alarmed if spoken to directly so parents can use the help of various non direct tactics such as stories or role plays to broach the topic. Parenting sessions with a therapist also helps parents discuss ways in which the child can be approached taking the individual personality of the child into consideration. Schools having an active counseling department also have such talks / workshops with their students.

That such great numbers of children in India continue to be victimized by crime is a pointed reminder that we have not fulfilled our duties as protectors and caregivers. Taking care of the above mentioned solutions can go a long way to protect our children.

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