Child Safety: 5 chilling first-hand experiences that make me question parents’ sense of child security
We all love to believe that we know what’s best for our children. As parents, we think we’ve got it all covered. And yet, every day, we learn of incidents that rattle us to the core. Incidents that involve children being declared brain dead, raped and worse – murdered. Child safety is a relative notion, not yet an absolute one.
As a parent, I too try to implement full child safety too. Here’s are first-hand experiences that have made me learn. And then made me wonder – What the f*** are parents doing??
Baby On Board
But are you? Any and every car with child passengers has these fancy signs on the rear glass for child safety.
Despite these signs, I see parents seating their kids in the front, without seat belts. Worse, most kids don’t even sit in car seats. Every day, I see parents riding with kids on scooters and motorcycles without making them wear helmets. Is there proof that a 800-metre ride cannot incur accidents? I see parents allowing kids to indulge in a brattish blow dry with them sticking their heads out of sunroofs.
While we have no laws that mandate any of these for child safety (it’s high time that happens, though) don’t you think these simple methods can secure your children? Better still, they instil a sense of safety in them. A child who is taught to sit still in one place and not disturb the driver will be most safe in a school bus.
Good Touch. Bad Touch. No Touch
This is one incident I can never get over. After a swimming session with my son, I was walking him to the changing room. I realised that a then 5-year-old girl who was also in the pool had gotten put but not returned. To my horror, I saw her standing alone outside the ladies changing room – stark naked!
Her swimsuit in hand, she looked utterly lost. I asked her what had happened and she said, ‘I went to do su-su and I don’t know how to put on my swimsuit now’.
There was to be a maid with her – she had walked away while the child was swimming. No parent in sight. Can we really trust children that young with strangers? Especially when it comes to activities that involve huge risks? Can parents who have to leave their kids at home with a caretaker please put an embargo on such recreational options during their absence? In between fancy explanations of good touch and bad touch, how much in touch are parents with what’s going on in the days of their kids’ lives?
Lastly – how do I get this incident out of my mind?
Behind closed doors
Not a bad practice at all, when it comes to changing your kids’ clothes or diapers when out of home.
I was getting a haircut and a child aged about 3 was in the chair beside me. Haircuts for kids can be quite an event so I understand parents hovering around the salon chair. But this soon became maniacal. Daddy dear went bonkers explaining the exact haircut he wanted for his daughter. Not only was he short of teaching the hairdresser his job but also kept directing his child as if she’s his star in an on-going film shoot.
Spectacle over, parents elated and child trimmed to perfection, within 5 minutes I see the unbelievable. The mother merrily changing the child’s diaper, dress et al in full view of people at the salon!
After so much drama over vanity, where art thou, sanity? After obsessing over her “look”, how about splitting some hairs over her privacy? Her child safety?
No, we needn’t bother when it comes to kids so young, do we? A few months later, when it was time to change uniforms at school for the next year, I saw mothers happily stripping their kids to their undies in full view of strangers and trying on new uniforms.
If you don’t instil a sense of privacy, some boundaries for your child, how is he or she going to know when someone else oversteps them?
Birthday parties – London Thumakda, Diwali parties – Tenu Suit Suit Karda, Halloween parties – Abhi Toh Party Shuru Hui Hain, Christmas parties – Despacito (English gaana lagao!)
When I sat to play with my child and his friends one evening, I handed them each a piece of chalk. I asked them write some simple words, as per alphabets I chose. An 8-year-old wrote D-E-S-P-A-C-I-T-O when I said “D”. I know most of you find this amusing. But it’s also really, really sad.
Over exposure to media that children have no business consuming, close to no parental monitoring has made mass culture penetrate the very consciousness of these young minds. It’s all fun and games now, one may think. But can’t the fun or games be more suited to their appetite?
When a child grows up and fails to perceive the objectification of women in media, the dilution of ethics, and believes that sexuality, violence and assault are solutions to everything, what are we going to do?
Talk Talk Talk
We all believe in talking to our children regularly in attempts to know what’s going on at school or at play. This is how we learn of any mishaps or anything that’s out of the usual. But how much do we realise about what we say?
Child Sexual Abuse counsellors often narrate how parents still refrain from using the words “penis”, “vagina”, “anus” and “buttocks” with their children. Using these words correctly makes children know that there’s nothing shameful about them. It makes them also know that when they need to talk about these parts – for whatever reason – they can open up and talk.
Read what child rights expert and change facilitator, Vasuda Arora has to say about this in the GHP story on child sexual abuse here.
Covering up names of vital body parts creates an unnecessary idea of taboo for children.
We have to play the fine balance of keeping some things open and frank and others in privacy. Yes, parenting is a challenge. But it’s yours to stand up to and do your best.
Not because we want “intelligent”, “good-looking” children but because we want children that are safe and secure. We all know what insecurities can do to the world. Why not nip that bud and ensure our very own can blossom?
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