Losing Innocence - one way or the other....

Yet another shocking incident of an assault on a three-year-old in a school has come to light this week. And parents are once again faced with the responsibility of talking their children through things that may not be pleasant, in the very least. 

When I was young, my parents got me into the habit of reading newspapers. I used to read headlines and then some paragraphs that my mom would’ve marked. This daily exercise was fun for me, because unlike all the story books that I read, I was told that this newspaper part was real, it was what actually was happening in the world around me; and I was always anxious to get the paper every day to see what new event I would get to know about. I would like my child to have the same habit too – but day by day it is getting increasingly difficult. One after the other, there are serious crimes reported; and when an incident such as the most recent one comes to light; I am scared – but more than scared, I am concerned - for the safety of my child, and more importantly, the for innocence of my child that is getting lost at a tender age.


That such an incident can happen inside a school premises is beyond shocking. Forget the blame game, as a parent, when I leave my child in school, I presume that this is one safe place. As parents, we all tell our children to beware of strangers – of people who they don’t know, have never met – but what do you do when the perpetrator is someone the child sees every day? Someone we have sent them to school saying this person is “OK”? Imagine being three, five or six years old, and being sent away to school and then being faced with this! I cannot even begin to imagine what the little girl in question when through or what she and her family are going through presently – but I do know one thing – I can’t believe any place is safe for my child anymore. If you are as paranoid a parent as I am, you already think that – but the fact just got reiterated once again!

This incident also brings to the fore the importance of teaching your child the difference between good touch and bad touch. It is the parent’s duty to let their child know that they are special and that NO ONE has any business touching them without their permission. 


Give them the confidence that other than parents and God, there is no one else they need to be scared of or respect more. Let your child know when it is okay to be touched by someone other than a parent, let them know what to do when they feel uncomfortable – shout “NO,” run away, kick, scream, whatever – draw attention to yourself and the perpetrator.


But most importantly let your child know that you are open to hear all they have to say to you. Most things they say in the daily course of things may be irrelevant or made-up or even too fantastic for you to believe, but hey, if they don’t feel confident to come and tell their little insignificant things to you today, they won’t feel like speaking about bigger, significant things with you later in life.I know many parents who haven’t spoken to their children about this concept yet – why, my child is only 5 (or 4, or 3)! – but isn’t it better you tell your child about this than let them know from outsiders; or god forbid, experience? 


Yes, this is a delicate thing to talk about and not an easy topic, especially if your children are at an age and of a mindset where they ask you numerous doubts and questions. Granted, there is no best time to start this conversation either – but where is the choice? There was an era when the early childhood was considered too young to talk about anything so serious, but given the times we live in today, it is better to swallow the bitter pill of speaking it out with children earlier than leaving it to fate. 


I believe that children this age are too young to grasp the seriousness of what we tell them, but then again, repetition helps and as they grow, hopefully things are clearer to them.Most parents of my generation come from conservative Indian families where such talk is taboo. I know of parents who don’t watch an English movie when their own parents are around. 


From a background like this, it is understandably difficult to speak about these issues to children. There is also the fear of overwhelming them with too much information at a tender age. I know children who say “I know, I know all that mummy” when you have repeated the topic many times to them; and then there are some others who just go blank; and a few others say “don’t scare me mummy with all this talk” – but no matter what your child’s reaction, we parents do not have a choice today nor do we have the luxury of not speaking at all.


The fact is that, no matter whether you tell them or they find out by themselves – the innocence that you are trying to protect is anyway short-lived. It is saddening to see children so tender in age having to shed their innocence because of such incidents. But my Mom taught me, ‘a stitch in time, saves nine’; and that is why I am going to have a talk with my child. Are you?  

Comments

  1. Timely Article Rashmi!! A commentary on the sad state of affairs today.

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