The recent abominable incident in the land of ‘bhadralok’ wherein a four year old student was molested, soon followed by an alleged incident of molestation in air of a public figure. It brought to fore, certain indigestible truths. It is not the first time and definitely not the last time that we read about such incidents. And sadly, such incidents happen across the world and not unique to our country/ culture. Fact is
One. The societal standards have dropped. Pedophiles exist.
Two. Nobody seems to be safe. It’s not age. It’s not caste. It’s not your status. It’s not your gender. Anybody could be a victim.
Three. No point pointing fingers and passing the buck. WE, as a society have failed because the perpetrators have been thrown up by our society/ societal standards and by accepting such reprehensible acts as routine.
How do WE take care of ourselves. In my WOSAF sessions, I share knowledge gained over 25 years in the uniform to protect oneself. Yes, I believe, Offence is the best Defence. But how do you protect a child?
For ALL the Parents out there; here are some tips which should help protect YOUr child.
One. Buddy System. Follow this time tested practice from the Indian Army. Every child must have a buddy. Everywhere he/she goes, the buddy goes. If required, have different sets of buddies; one in school, one in the carpool/ bus, one in the society/ playground. Thus, when ‘bulbuli goes to the washroom, chulbuli too accompanies her’. The perpetrator is deterred. Also Chulbuli can shout, bring help. These should be taught to every child in school/ homes.
Two. Educate the child about ‘good touch and bad touch’. No secrets. Pay special attention to his/her behaviour. The child clamps up and goes into a shell, should some untoward incident happen. Communicate freely with the child.
Three. Believe the child. Take immediate steps to address the issue. It’s better to be suspicious now than regret later. Under no circumstance should the child be on a one-on-one session with anybody.
Four. When the child feels uncomfortable, they should be taught to ‘shout’. Scream!! Raise hell. Anything to attract attention. True for his/her friend in need of help too!
Five. Build trust with your child and keep no secrets. They are taught to share everything, good or bad. It is also the response of the parents that’ll be the cue the child takes for sharing. So Believe and build trust. And remember, it’s not the child’s fault. Period.
Six. The sharing should NOT be restricted to only unknown people but could be with known people too!!
Protect and nurture the innocence of the child BUT appraise them about ‘safety’ of their bodies and how some people would want to harm them. Presence of mind is good under these circumstances but absence of body is better. Avoid situations which could lead to/ offer perpetrators any chance for such disgraceful acts.
Raise your voice. Raise your concern. Raise your awareness.
Today, in one of my sessions with Women of one organization, One of the participants asked, “Sir, there are times when I’m alone and the Buddy system cannot work?” On further probing, I found out that she was particularly worried about travelling alone. And when you travel alone, there is no buddy to take care off!
I said, really? Think. Digital era, under such circumstances have a digital buddy. Huh!! I cited the example of the lady who boarded the taxi at 7 pm and was later molested.
Hello, You are travelling alone. Taking a cab. Pick up you mobile and speak loudly (for the driver to hear, speak in a language he understands) to your mom/dad/sis/bro/bf .. anybody, and say, “I’ve just boarded a cab from such and such place, “driver bhaiyya, kitna time lagega, to reach your destination”. 30 mins” .. Say, he says 30 mins so expect me home by 7.30. The cab number is DL 02 8473. Tada .. love you mumma”.
The driver is alerted that someone else to is aware of the passenger and this acts as a deterrent.
A perfect example of a “Digital” buddy …..
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