Every action you take as a parent can be either in the favor of a Perpetrator out there or in the favor of your child. Hence it is important to be mindful of actions and decisions you take as a parent as often things that seem normal and safe to do could be subtle ways in which you could be pushing your child towards a perpetrator of child sexual abuse. Read ahead to know more and check if you could be doing any of these things.
Possible dangers of online presence are unknown to none. Morphing of images, chat leaks, accounts getting hacked, misuse of personal information shared by you and so much more. As parents, you increase the risk of your child being unsafe the moment you post their picture on social media. Posting live details like your vacation destination, which school and extracurricular classes your child goes to, what is their favorite food, chocolate and cartoon might look like fun and a very normal thing to do because everybody else does it, but you are giving out details of you and your child to the world and it can be used to groom your child and put them on risk at many levels.
Do you think it is safe to post updates if your social media account is private?
It can not entirely be as what if the perpetrator is a known person close to your family as in most cases of child sexual abuse or your account gets hacked. As much as social media is instant and accessible, it is equally easy to access somebody else’s information and make wrong use of it.
There are certain behaviors and habits that parents gradually form in their daily life that could be pushing their child towards danger. It is very important to identify these patterns before they put children at further risk.
Not actively and mindfully listening to your children
As children get older, parents’ need to listen to their children lessens. Go back down the memory lane and see how most of the time parents listen to their children talking about their day only while getting things done. Actively listening to your children is essential to their wellbeing and their ability to develop self - esteem, connection with parents and share details of their life with them. While children share details about their day and life, by actively listening, parents can spot and identify if their children are at risk and can take preventive measures. If children feel that their parents are not listening to them, they will hesitate to reach out to them when they are in trouble and perpetrators are often looking for children who are not heard properly at home as it is easy to groom them.
Child neglect comes in many forms like emotional neglect, inadequate supervision, physical neglect and more. Most of the time any form of neglect is unintentional but puts children at high risk of being unsafe and impacts their overall development. Observing your child's behavior can tell a lot about them. When children are in trouble and experience an inability to convey it to their parents, it often reflects in their behavior and parents can tend to overlook it because of their neglectful behavior. Children who experience neglect at home are often targets of abusers as these children might seek to fill the void of attention and love from outside of their family and this makes them vulnerable to grooming and eventually child sexual abuse.
Not Validating Their Feelings
It is very normal for children to be dismissed in most households and adults often find nothing wrong with that. Children complaining about them not wanting to go to school or to play, feeling stomach ache which often can be a form of anxiety, not wanting to dance in front of a relative or saying no to give a peck on the cheek to their aunt, all of this and so much more is often overlooked and invalidated by the parents. This forces children to often seek validation from outside, sometimes making them so needy for the same that they lose their rational ability to determine if the source of validation is safe or unsafe. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse can often pose as a source of this validation, providing which they groom the children very easily. Children whose feelings are not validated would not think of confronting into their parents as the first response when in trouble thinking that they would be dismissed or worse, neglected.
Lack of emotional safety check up
Lack of emotional safety between parents and children leads to disconnection. Feeling of belonging, taken care of, being loved and having regard for are basic emotional needs of children that parents should not only provide for but also check if they are well received by their children. In most Indian households, expression of emotions is often repressed, especially feelings of love and bonding. It's a very popular saying that parents would not think twice before arguing in front of their children but would never say words of affection in front of them.
It is very important that parents check up on their children every now and then about their mental health, their feelings and thoughts in order to stay connected to them and to know what goes on in children's life beyond what is visible to them. This builds family emotional safety and lack of the same can make children feel unloved, unwanted and not cared for
How you can push your children towards safe childhoods instead of a perpetrator is by making sure they know they are heard and you can provide for all of their basic physical and emotional needs. Efforts need to be made to make sure to establish a strong relationship with your children so that their first response in the hour of trouble is to tell their parents. The first step to establish this safe bond is to re-evaluate your ongoing patterns as a parent and spot a loophole if any. This is very important as some neglectful patterns are so normalized as we follow them as a society that we often fail to recognize that they can be problematic.