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April 12, 2011

CSA – A Father’s perspective.

(A guest post written by the husband on Child Sexual Abuse Awareness.)

It is not too long back that I realized that Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is so rampant in our society. I was horrified to hear about stories of young girls being abused by uncles and good friends from the neighbourhood. At first I couldn’t even comprehend the fact that a 4 or 5 year old could be sexually abused! Yes I have been naïve and I am ashamed about my lack of awareness. It is painful to note that CSA is rampant in the current world. A few weeks back there was a news of a mother making pornographic video with her 2 year old. This news really brought tears to my eyes and my heart sank.

I grew up as an only child and was brought up in a bubble by my parents. I have been so lucky that I was not even aware about such a serious abuse being faced by many of my friends during my school days. Ofcourse I was aware of the senseless brushes, vulgar looks of men and how they train their eyes on young school going girls when they travel by public buses. It never used to disturb me then when I was a boy. I just used to think yes these guys are really rogues but nothing beyond. Now I see and understand the long lasting scars that such unpardonable acts leave on people’s lives.

As a father I am starting to feel so paranoid and insecure about the world into which I have got my kids into. Their innocence and the world surrounding them makes me feel so guilty and helpless at times. How am I going to protect my kids as a parent and how to ensure that my child comes and tells me about a bad touch or a bad intentional approach by a friend or stranger? These days even when I meet with my friends in a kid’s birthday party, I get so conscious before I hug or kiss a child for his or her birthday. Even with my own kids, I sometimes get conscious and ask a question if I am really overdoing it when I hug or kiss them. Such thoughts makes me wonder..God what kind of a world I am in and why is my mind starting to think in lines that I never imagined a few years back. And what are we going to do to make this world a better place for our kids.

I think it is important to educate our children from the age of 4 onwards about good touch and bad touch. We need to constantly let our children knowhow it is important to be open to parents when a friend or a family member behaves in a weirdly affectionate way with them. It is very tricky to educate kids about such an issue at such an age. I pains me to realize how we as parents need to sensitize our kids about such evil issues at such a tender age and still how helpless we are in this world as we cannot always be around and watchful with our kids at school and public places, etc., I am not even sure if such education at tender age is going to have the desired impact on our children or it is just going to clutter or complicate a beautiful mind. At the same time I also realize that we have no other option in this world. There is no point in being in denial. We need to reinforce the importance of this matter in our children and hope that they come and tell us at the first instance when they see or face such an act.

The most worrying point is that I am still very doubtful if our kids will be comfortable to come and report such incidents to mom or dad. CSA is a real evil and unpardonable offense that occurs widely across the world. But it has been such a taboo issue that people like me are starting to realize about the wide spread prevalence of this menace only now. I would like to laud the bloggers for their efforts to put up this CSA awareness blog. Its time we spoke about it.

19 comments:

Rohini said...

Thanks for writing this - it is rare to see a father's perspective on this. I will get my husband to read this.

It's heart-breaking though that you feel the need to tone down your own affection. I wanted to share this with you:

http://abouttimenow.blogspot.com/2011/04/save-smile.html

penandpaper said...

It was extremely touching. We are used to mothers sharing their fears of CSA, we never get to hear / read what a father feels.

Passionate Goof said...

This was a great post to read. While you call yourself naive, I would like to say, you believed in the basic goodness of mankind! Unfortunately we are not surrounded by good people all the time.
And when you say, you are wondering if you cross a line in being affectionate with your own children, I am surprised to find another parent who feels the same as me. I often wonder myself, if there is something I am doing in my hugs, kisses and cuddles that might be inappropriate... and I just hope I am not! I guess the important thing about any touch, act or words, is the intent behind it.

Mamma Mia! Me a Mamma?!? said...

It is wonderful to see that this topic has fathers worried too. Many men stubbornly refuse to acknowledge the existence of such evil in their immediate worlds...point out the facts and statistics and they'll snarl a vicious, "Kill the b******s!!" -- my own hubby dear included.

Thanks you Boo's papa, for writing this. Your words have perfectly echoed the worries and concerns that we talk about and wonder all the time.

And it's so sad that nowadays we have to stop and think before we hug a friend's child without worrying that people may, just may, question our motives. It is a sad, sad world indeed...

Anonymous said...

Well said HD. As a father of two girls I see many of my thoughts reflecting here. Only one doubt, How to prevent/punish this?. Ajith Sreedhar

Swati said...

Its nice to have your perspective. But like you said , I keep worrying that will we over burden their beautiful minds with all this info. What kind of world this is where a 4 year old has to analyze his/her father's touch and categorize it as good / bad. I feel so sick at the thought

chandni said...

its so nice to hear a father's perspective. yes we need to talk about it and only then can we even hope to make a difference or reach out to prevent the same and keep children safe

pratik said...

Victims of abuse are generally those who are unaware of society's rules (children) and those who will not speak out against the offender (relatives). This is why it is important for parents to educate their children on such topics and even build a level of trust and bond with the child. I recently came across a similar blog on abuse (http://bit.ly/fXd2WJ) that I think will interest you.

pratik said...

Victims of abuse are generally those who are unaware of society's rules (children) and those who will not speak out against the offender (relatives). This is why it is important for parents to educate their children on such topics and even build a level of trust and bond with the child. I recently came across a similar blog on abuse (http://bit.ly/fXd2WJ) that I think will interest you.

dipali said...

Good to read this perspective. Please follow your heart and your own instincts in interacting with your daughters. Yes, we have to be vigilant. We have to inspire sufficient confidence in our children that they can come to us with any problem. We do not need to make our youngsters self-conscious and/or paranoid.

Hip Grandma said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hip Grandma said...

Good to hear the perspective of a father.Regarding being demonstrative in showing one's affection I think a child's sensitivity has to be respected and understood. Her/his actions or rather reaction to a hug or a kiss should say it all. Whether it is a mother or father or anyone else whose intention is good feel that a child is uncomfortable on being cuddled or hugged they ought to stop it then and there. I've seen men hug their nieces and say 'oh come on, I am your uncle not your boy friend' and laugh at their own joke. However well meant this has to stop if the child indicates that he/she is not comfortable.

Kookaburra said...

Difficult topic right? Great to see you guys are writing it out .. More scary to deal with real people and real situations though ... Mostly dumb founded I am when I know in skin and bone.

I remember first time in chennai in a very crowded bus, disgusted by what was happening, I raised my voice and talked to the perpetrator looking right into his eyes and continued until he jumped off the bus, while the victim and the 100 others around just watched us and the bus moved casually - my family was very upset when they knew I faced up to the situation!!!
Very recently sitting in Old Delhi station, when it actually dawned on me that the random guy is showing porno in his mobile and the two tiny tots are looking into it, I stood up and screamed, he walked away and the police straight looked into my eyes, I just sat back wondering what am I to with FIR at 1am in Old Delhi ... Funnily the mother of those tiny tots didnt realize what happened at all ... She thought he was teasing me, I thought the kids were fascinated by the mobile ... It always puzzles me to think about how to react when we find the facts in skin and bone. Lucky are those who never see it in person - happily I was blind too many years ago.

starry eyed said...

Good to see the father's viewpoint. I'm glad that it's being talked about, and that we are ready to prepare and protect our children, but also good to see you thinking about looking at how to not bring in evil and darkness into their brilliance and innocence...I think it's possible and necessary to be there for our kids without scaring them or curtailing their opportunities and social interaction.

Choxbox said...

Very tricky to do the balancing act as you pointed out - educate them but retain their innocence..

B o o said...

Ro - Heart breaking is right! :(

Pen and paper - He had no choice but to write. I ve been bombarding him with CSAA related articles!!

Passionate Goof - So true about the intent.

Abha - This man was like that too. "not talking about it" was the solution according to him! I decided "awareness to begins at home!"

Ajith - I believe communication is the key. We cant keep the kids in a bubble. So at least keep talking to them about safe/unsafe touch and hope they come and talk to us when they are in doubt.

Swati - It is a sick world, sigh!

Chandni - Im so glad that CSAAM happened when it happened.

Pratik - You are so right and thanks for the link.

B o o said...

Dipali - This parenting business is so tough!!

Hip Grandma - Thats an excellent point about respecting childrens wishes. and grrr... at the joke.

kookaburra - thats awful! what sick minds! I know what you mean. talking the talk is easy. walking the walk is a whole another story!

Starry and Chox - Striking the balance is so difficult for us.

black said...

I spent the entire day reading the posts by so many amazing individuals. I came across this blogsite on a random search. I can identify on three accounts. Dad of a 6 year old girl, partner of a person who went through CSA and finally, as someone who had a close brush during childhood.

I can definitely say that I was never naive about CSA even if I did not know the exact terminology. It was all over the place and couldn't be ignored. Yes, now, into my mid thirties I know a lot more about the full ramifications and long lasting effects.

I can identify with the dads who have fears about the safety of their children. Always on the vigil. Constantly checking on the little one when playing outside, giving strict instructions not to go to any of the neighbors house without telling, worrying about the lone watchman at the day care center every day...the list goes on.

Am dropping my daughter at her grandparent's home for a few days and am just not able to come to peace and not worry. I would like to talk to my in laws's family. But, don't know how to convince them or how to send the message across. My partner never spoke about her CSA with her parents and I would imagine that it would be tough for her to talk to them. I guess I will figure it out.

Thanks for posting the father's perspective. I believe that there can not be two drastically different perspectives on CSA. Those of us who are sensitized can easily relate and understand the enormity of this issue regardless of whether it is a mom or a dad.

black said...

One more thing that I find useful about physical expressions of affections. Other than the usual do's and dont's, a general thumb rule we use is: If the little one doesn't want it, no touch is appropriate, even from parents. Today, my little one threw a big tantrum and when I tried to put my hand on her knee, she just said 'no' and I respected her. After it was all done and when it was time to drop her off at the day care, I got a nice warm hug. With a few simple measures, dads can have a blast and not worry too much. Well..thats my two cents worth :)