As accusations of child abuse emerge with alarming regularity across the country, Sri Lanka is experiencing a nationwide crisis of child abuse. Over 2,500 incidences of child abuse were reported to the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA) in the first 60 days of 2020, while 5,242 cases were reported by July 2020. On average, its child abuse hotline, ‘1929,’ receives roughly 40 reports every day. According to the Stop Child Cruelty Trust, there were over 17,000 instances of child abuse blocked at the Attorney General’s Department at the end of 2017, with some cases extending back ten years. By the end of 2018, this figure was thought to have increased to around 20,000. While child abuse can be both physical maltreatment or sexual molestation of a child most of the child abuse incidents reported in Sri Lanka involve sexual molestation or abuse.
In the light of these statistics, what are the chances your child will never be a victim of sexual abuse or molestation? Have you ever given it any thought? Child abuse in any form is a horrible crime. However, we cannot afford to forget that a child’s safety is the sole responsibility of his or her parents! Today I want to share with you a few steps you can take as a parent to protect your little boy or girl from sexual abuse and molestation.
Note: Legally speaking the terms “sexual molestation” and “sexual abuse” have distinctive meanings. While a pattern of perverted sexual behavior that persists over a period is called sexual abuse, molestation is used to refer to a single or isolated incident of sexual abuse. Child molestation is also only used to describe a sex crime committed against a small child, (including babies) while child sexual abuse is a sex crime against older children and teenagers. Legally the actions mentioned below are considered but not limited to sexual abuse and molestation of children. Touching a child’s genital area or a female child’s breasts, fondling a child, forcing a child to perform oral sex penetration, rape or attempted rape, sodomy, child pornography, non-touching offenses, such as indecent exposure, exposing a child to pornography, and masturbating in front of a child.
Teach the basics of Human Sexuality
In Sri Lanka, parents and children don’t talk about human sexuality because it’s considered taboo. Therefore, sex education in Sri Lanka rests in a dysfunctional state because nothing much is done to meet this need in schools either other than suppressing any efforts to meet the need. Nevertheless, the safety of your child must begin at home, and teaching the basics of human sexuality is a good point to start. Check my post “How to Talk to Your Children about Sex in Sri Lanka?” if you are not sure how to do it.
Make Your Home or Family Functional
In Sri Lanka, most victims of child sexual abuse and molestation are from dysfunctional homes. When the home is not a loving and affectionate place they start searching for love and affection elsewhere eventually becoming victims of a predator relative or a close friend of the family. I can’t tell you how to make your family functional or your home warm and welcoming but if you are a single parent or your family is dysfunctional do keep in mind that your children are at great risk.
Don’t undress before your Children
I have met mothers who have told me they change clothes in the presence of their little children because it will reduce their curiosity about the female body thus affecting possible attraction to pornography when they grow up. The problem with this approach is that even if someone who is not your child’s mother exposes him or herself to your child, he will consider it normal. Therefore, don’t change clothes in front of your children. There are other ways to keep them away from porn.
Pay close attention to warning Signs
Pay attention to these signs in your child. These are warning signs of abuse or molestation. Physical signs, such as genital injuries or bloody undergarments, sexually transmitted diseases, or teen pregnancy, an unusual or inappropriate knowledge of sexual subjects for the child’s age, emotional or behavioral problems (ex: anxiety, nightmares, or depression), outbursts of aggression, regression (mainly in small children), fear of being alone with a certain adult, reduced performance in school or bullying.
Monitor and Control Online Activity
Sexual predators often use pornography to groom their targets. Now Internet filters were effective when your child’s online activity was limited to the living room PC. Not anymore. With a mobile device, your child can access the internet from virtually anywhere. With social media being used for marketing pornography filters are becoming less effective. Hence, you cannot dismiss the importance of monitoring and controlling your child’s online activity manually.
Tip: You can still signup for a free solution like OpenDNS Family Shield or OpenDNS Home but don’t trust your child’s safety entirely to another online service. Children can get around these fences easily.
Learn to Listen with Understanding
Children need to be assured they will be heard, and their concerns will be understood. Children don’t talk about their abusers unless they know their voice will be heard and their concerns will be understood. For instance, if you blame your child for getting bullied at school, he will not tell you even if someone made sexual advances against him. Therefore, learn to listen with understanding and let your children know their voices will be heard and their concerns will be understood. You are your child’s most powerful guardian.
Prevention is better than cure. However, you cannot 100% eliminate the risk of your child being sexually abused but you can significantly reduce the chances of abuse. If your child has been a victim of such abuse take measures to stop the abuse by seeking assistance from a law enforcement agency. Afterward, focus on bringing healing. If you need any assistance in the latter area, feel free to drop me an email and I will be glad to help. Whatever you do, do not forget that you are your child’s most powerful guardian.
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