By Bukoladeremi Ladigbolu
Some years ago, 2012 to be precise, there was an online video of the sexual abuse of a child. This bizarre video sent cold shivers down the spine of most people who were fortunate, or rather unfortunate, to have watched it. I am still grieved by the video as I write this piece. It was in awe that I watched a little boy of not more than three years old being sexually abused by another minor, a girl of about 12.
It is disheartening to know that sexual perversion is on the increase and has doubled what was recorded in 2012. The evidence is clear on the pages of our newspapers and magazines, as all we read about everyday is about the increase in sexual abuse. It appears as if it has no border and the rate at which it is increasing is alarming. Fathers can no longer be trusted with their daughters or step-daughters, so-called men of God abuse children and teenagers during “deliverance services” at worship centres. It is no longer safe to entrust the life of a daughter in the hands of neighbours or co-workers. What exactly is happening? Where are the morals? I have read stories of headmasters raping their female pupils. It won’t stop amazing me that like some Nollywood films, these stories end the same way. The victims are usually threatened not to reveal these dastardly acts to their parents or guardians, failure not to comply might lead to their death. Of course, who wants to die?
As a mother, my heart bleeds when I read all these satanic stories. We won’t just sit and fold our arms and thank God it didn’t happen to our daughter. A story I read in one of our dailies a few days ago brought tears to my eyes. I kept imagining so many things and begged God not to allow my daughter to be raped or abused. The story was about two siblings, a five-year-old girl and her three-year-old sister being sexually abused by their father’s colleagues who reside in the same compound with them. Pathetic to know that these girls were being abused by people their father thought were helping him in taking care of them while he went for night shift. What a shame!
It is important for parents to start sex education at a very early age; it is never too early but it can be too late to start sex education. Your child has a right to know the real name of all parts of his or her body.
A child should know his or her private parts and what they are called. Bond very well with your children so that they will develop this trust and confidence in you, to the extent that they are not afraid to tell you anything. Even when they are being threatened outside and warned against telling their parents certain things, you will be amazed that your child will open up to you. Let him or her know that no uncle or aunty has a right to touch or play with some sensitive parts of his or her body.
I was a visitor to a school to talk on premarital sex and a very young boy opened up to me that a lady much older than him had been abusing him sexually. This boy could not open up to his parents. So sad. A family friend who is a building contractor went to work for a church member but the couple were not at home; they went on a ministration to bring lost souls into the kingdom of God, but their children were at home. This contractor was shocked to find the teenage son of this family engaging in sexual act with his immediate younger sister! The housemaid confirmed to my family friend that it had been on for a while that this 15-year-old boy had been defiling his 13-year-old sister.
To their parents, they are well-mannered children. Parents watch your kids; monitor them closely.
I sincerely pity parents who stay in a one-room apartment with plenty children. They definitely are not helping these kids; how do they manage when the sexual urge comes? Do they assume the children are asleep or won’t just understand? Oftentimes, these kids pretend to be asleep and watch their parents live and direct performing their marital roles. Parents in this category willingly or unwillingly have contributed to the rot in the society. It is only normal for a child to want to do what he or she sees the parents do.
What of divorced or separated couples? They are obviously part of the problems. We have seen cases where the daughter from such a union is being sexually abused by her father forcing her to play the role of a wife. A perfect example of how not to be a father. I sincerely don’t see any sense in a woman walking out of her marriage and leaving behind her daughter or son. Because of the depth of sexual perversion, mothers should not leave their daughters behind; that is not to say daughters being taken away are free from sexual abuse in the hands of their stepfathers but there is a difference. It makes sense to be with your children and protect them from the devourer.
Stepfathers too have taken advantage of the fact that the daughters are not their biological children and there have been reported cases of abuse by stepfathers too. What exactly is the world turning to?
The pertinent question thus is: Are parents doing enough in ensuring that their children are being protected from these vampires? My answer is outright NO!
Parents are too preoccupied with their businesses and careers that they know little about their children. Mothers are shy to talk about sex and have a full discussion with their children. Funny enough, these children are sent into the boarding school with little or no knowledge about sex education, they become a prey in the hands of their friends or housemasters who in some cases abuse them without their parents’ knowledge. These kids are traumatised and their self-esteem rubbished. By the time their parents are aware, the deed is done.
Some fathers don’t know their children’s class and date of birth. They think they have scored some points by paying the school fees and other bills. I pity them.
A proverb among my people has it that a child that is not trained will sell the father’s property. Come to think of it, children are exposed to so many things such as television; they see naked bodies and provocative wears and dance steps. Since parental guidance is lacking, they watch what they want and when they want since they are home alone most of the time. We assume that they are home watching cartoon, this is not always true. Children are by nature inquisitive and want to explore. My son asked to be forgiven some years ago that he was always watching a station advertising naked bodies. I was stunned because I so much trusted him to be permanently glued to his favourite channel: Cartoon Network; I was wrong. Can you blame him? He was home alone. Close monitoring is crucial for a child’s well-being and development. We can’t dispute the fact that parents must of necessity make ends meet, but that is not enough reason for parents to leave the well-being of their children in the hands of a complete stranger, house-help or neighbor, who at times may be sexually abusing such children without their knowledge.
Every year, 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States, which involve six million children. The US has the worst record in the industrialised world. According to a recent survey, 80 per cent of prostitutes and juvenile delinquents were sexually abused as children. According to General Statistics, a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds. More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse. Approximately, 80 per cent of children who die from abuse are under the age of four. More than 90 per cent of juvenile sexual abuse victims know their assailants in some way.
Parents should therefore know what their kids are exposed to so many things while they (parents) are at work. Of course, parents must work but they must ensure the safety of their children. As parents and guardians, it is important we preserve, protect and guard jealously the innocence of our children.
Ms Ladigbolu wrote in from Lagos via firstname.lastname@example.org