Some photos were shared on a WhatsApp group I am on this morning, that made me so upset, so flustered, OMG! I’m sure some of you have seen them too, but I am not going to share them on here. A part of me understands why it is being shared – the reality of it hits you harder and you realize we have a lot of sitting up to do. And then a part of me thinks it shouldn’t be – no, the faces of the children in the pictures do not show, but they are graphic (for lack of a better word), in my opinion, and circulation of it is sure to get out of hand. Some people are sure going to do inappropriate things with them..we all know social media, don’t we?
You’re wondering what photos I’m talking about, aren’t you? They are two photos showing two kids, who look not more than 3/4 years old, having sex (I’m not even sure if I should call it that), with the little girl atop the boy, and one of the pictures showing clearly that there was penetration. Now I am not about to go into why the person who took the photos took those photos, whether the kids were aware they were being photographed (because the second photo showing evidence of penetration looked like a close-up shot), why the person did not immediately stop them, what happened afterwards…No. I’m not going to go into those in this post, God knows it will take me pages, and pages, to address them. My focus here is the cause(s). What factors contributed to this event happening, eventually. Why were those kids, imitating sex (disturbingly to the letter), and out in the open like that? What led to this? That is what I want us to discuss…solutions.
Sometime last week, my sister shared a story her preschool teacher friend had shared with her. It was about a 4-year old girl who asked this teacher friend if she knew what she, the little girl, wanted most when she grew up…
Teacher: Tell me?
Girl: I want someone to rape me.
Teacher (alarmed…sits girl down and not wanting to believe, asks…): What is rape?
Girl: It is when mommy is sitting on daddy, and daddy tickles her and she will be saying “herh, do you want to rape me?” and she will be laughing.
The teacher was both relieved and still alarmed in a much different direction! After hearing this story, I was so concerned. What if this child said this to the wrong person, who would take advantage of the gross mistake?! What if…what if….what if! Oh boy! This is what we are looking at…Kids! Let us not underestimate how sharp they are, people. I have grown up helping raise a dozen nieces and nephews (and yuup, even grand nieces and nephews, ha!), trust me…I know! My eleven month old niece mimics almost everything you do and say, it is cuuuute! But let’s not get carried away! Don’t forget….they mimic EVERYTHING!
So what should we do? What must we do? Here’s what I think;
COMMUNICATION: Don’t think “oh she/he is in the corner minding her/his toys” so she/he is virtually absent. No! Kids love the presence of adults they have come to recognize over the months or few years, and they keep not just a side-eye on them, but their side-attention too, which mind you, is extremely sharp! They know what is going on, they can hear you, and they process things in their own way. Take the story I was told, for instance…this little girl must have heard and seen this scene more than once and processed it her own skewed way. It is dangerous! We should be conscious of what goes on in the presence of our kids; what we say. It is all a part of communication. You know how we child-proof the house to prevent domestic accidents like falling down stairs, getting access to medicine cabinets and ingesting stuff, etc. Those are very important to ensure the kids are safe from physical harm. However, there is the need also, to child-proof our communication in the house and wherever else we find ourselves with the kids. Watch your words and expressions. They soak them up..they interpret. Aside being careful about these, be conscious about direct communication with them. Have conversations with them; most children love to have conversations and share their thoughts. When this is encouraged, you will be able to guide their thoughts and interpretations, clear things up with them, teach them what they need to know and make it as understandable to them as you can, with the aim of clearing up as much ambiguities as you can. Communicate! You’ll be surprised how much they have soaked up, especially in this century. I believe you can talk to them about everything – it’s just how you go about it. Child-proof them!
VIGILANCE: Children mimic what they see a lot of the time. Pay attention to their changing, growing selves. What they say, their actions, etc. This is because, your kids interact and connect outside of the home as well, where unfortunately you have little or no control over censorship and the like. Therefore, your keen eye must scan what the outside factors are doing to your kid(s). A most important thing to note also is the bodies of your kids; bruises, swellings, anomalies, etc. on the bodies of your kids are signs that something is not right in those places where your kids are without you. Cases of child physical and sexual abuse have been found out this way. Kids may not report abuse to you because they often are threatened or coaxed into silence. Watch them. If they are still of an age where they need to be bathed, try as much as possible to bathe them yourself sometimes – you the parent (whether mom or dad), and pay close attention as you do so. It is very important. When you begin to notice warning signs, be it with their physical appearance, their conversations, or their actions, take immediate actions to clear things up – unteach them, get them medical attention, investigate the matter and go down to the root of it, and ensure that that source of poison is eliminated, give love, lots of it! Help them heal from whatever trauma that may have already been caused. Stay vigilant, please!
DISCIPLINING: This is a topic that I find delicate. How do you go about this? My opinion is to be aware of the ages of your kids, what ways you want to use to keep them disciplined, at each level they grow to. Do not forget the aim of reward and punishment – it is to teach them to not do this and to do that. Do not be stuck in the box that has only physical-pain causing punishments as the way to go. No. Yup, you can spank them, I approve of that sometimes, but discipline should have a purpose. What are you teaching the child at that particular moment? Example, that sharing is a good thing to do? Did she/he refuse to share something with her/his siblings? You can hold on a bit, and some other time, leave her/him out of something you are sharing with everyone else. She/he will definitely not be happy about it, aha! That’s where the teaching comes in…they have felt how unpleasant being left out of the sharing feels – bad…if they had shared with her/him, she would have felt good – meaning…? Exactly! She/he learns! All I’m saying is, don’t just let the kids be; you go to work, your spouse goes to work (or if you’re a single parent, you go to work), and the kid(s) go to school, and then you all get home, eat, sleep, everyone sort of doing their own thing, you get me? No. Be a part of their lives, such that they can see that you do all things with love, even when you are “punishing” them, they can see the love. Most kids will cry and still come to you to be comforted. They know it when it’s there, trust me. Discipline contributes to their social learning process. With time, they will instinctively know what is appropriate and what is not, and can discern when something is not right, dangerous, etc., and be smart on their feet about some of these things.
It is worrying, these things that are happening with kids, and we need to sit up, identify the root causes, and deal with them. Being able to prevent them, is the better choice, so let’s not forget;
Let’s take action!