Recently, a distressed mother reached out for help on Concerned Parents and Educators’ Network concerning her children who were involved in incest. She didn’t know what to do anymore to help them because she had done all she thought would work: separation, frank discussions, spanking, praying, and all the works. But this 11 year old boy and his 6 year old sister wouldn’t desist from the act. Apparently they claim to be in love. It sounded very unreal, like something from the movies until one other parent made this comment: "I wish I had a better suggestion. This is really worrisome. I grew up with two and the girl later had a child for her brother. None of us had the courage to report to their parents . The girl lied to her parents about the child and the brother supported her story.
Sigh! There are some things one should not hear at all and incest is one of them. Don't get me wrong; no form of sexual abuse is better than the other but incest is just gross on every level especially with such innocent little ones like the children involved in this case.
I hear someone ask, what is incest? Incest is the crime of sexual intercourse, cohabitation or marriage between persons with the degrees of consanguinity or affinity wherein marriage is legally forbidden. Basically, incest is the sexual intercourse between blood-related persons. This issue agains boils down to why parents need to take sex education seriously. We also must learn to empower our children against sexual predators. How is incest related to sex education? Well, you can guarantee that at least one member of an incestuous pair has been sexually abused or exposed to inappropriate sexual content- which is also a type of sex abuse.
Dear parents/guardians, there are pertinent questions that must not be avoided but attended to, they include the following;
- How well do you know your children's level of exposure to sex-related issues?
- Who have you selected as their care giver and why?
- What kind of friends do they relate with?
- How well do you know your spouse?
- Can you attest to their credibility even in your absence?
- What media content are your children consuming?
- If your child re-enacts what she watched on TV, will you watch comfortably?
Truth be told, parents can never know it all, and one can never be too sure of who is who. This is why you need to be sure that your own child knows what to say and do in the event of unsavoury incidents. It’s okay to have siblings mingle, it’s okay to preach love but in its best suitable forms. It has even been observed that parents let their children of opposite sex share the same rooms, some blame it on financial incapability. That’s quite understandable but what kind of messages do you pass to your kids? Does the boy child know when the girl child needs space and vice versa? Room sharing shouldn't necessarily lead to incest but since sex appeal has become the media's highest selling point, children now "know too much" without the relevant context. Our kids are exposed to several kinds of media messages especially via the television and the internet- music lyrics/videos, movies, games, and even social media posts. Have you observed how you can hardly attend a comedy show without returing with an overload of sexual innuendo and lewd inferences? Some parents don’t even care about the parental guidance feature, and even when they do, what happens when mum and dad are away?We can talk till tomorrow, but you need to be talking to your child.
Did you just pick any kind of caregiver for your child, without knowing his/her family, character and criminal/mental history? It’s been said that many cases of incest can be attributed to perverse caregivers who derive pleasure inciting sexual acts. They molest these kids and in turn make them molest one another.
What schools have you selected for your children? How often do you go to the teachers for feedback? Do they have friends? If yes, who are their friends? Yes, parents cannot know everything, but you need to know a lot. In fact, how much you know is an indication of your level of involvement as a parent. It is said that children pick up really bad habits from their peers. Learn to be close enough to know more of these things. Frequently engage them in interactive discussions.
Watch out for family relations who come bearing unnecessary gifts and curious affection/tweetable]. Uncles and aunties should have a certain level of relationship with the kids. Cousins should know when to draw the line. The issue of having kids go over for sleep overs and summer holidays should be controlled. Not every home is a haven! This is not to say that it is wrong to visit others but you must learn to check on them from time to time. Do not fail to properly ask them about their experience when they get back home. It sounds paranoid but that is the unfortunate impact of the rising spate of sex abuse.
Now here is the big question for the parents, how well do you know your spouse? It’s no news that we have fathers who molest their daughters, likewise some mothers, their sons. The worst part is how the other parent sometimes knows that the spouse is abusing the child but will refuse to raise an alarm. That passive parent is a culprit. perhaps a worse one! What happens when a parent is away? Please set the rules. Does Daddy Unreasonable prefer to share his bed with the teenage daughter? Does mummy still insist on bathing her adolescent son? All these acts should be watched and boundaries should be drawn. Children who have step-parents are particularly more vulnerable and their biological parent has the reponsibility to protect them. In a sane world, some of these acts should not be pointers of sexual abuse but the unbelieveable stories on hears these days, it is better to err on the side of caution.
Does your child exhibit traits of extreme fearlessness, fearfulness, personality changes, unusual play behaviour or paranoia? Does your spouse try to put you out of the picture regarding matters pertaining to the children? Do your children exhibit traits of mixed feelings and restrains or overt excitement towards caregivers/blood relatives? Please watch it!
Dear parents, as the days pass by and the holidays draw closer with abundant free time, learn to be closer to your kids and engage them in conversations no matter how awkward or difficultno matter how awkward or difficult. Know their friends, and not just by names. Know all that there is to know and watch your environment. Remember that 'stranger danger' is over-rated. Many times, Children are hurt by those they know, love and trust . Anyone who will abuse a child needs two things: access and opportunity. With those who have access to your child (such as friends, relatives, school mates), remove opporunity. And with those who have opportunities (such as strangers), remove access. Learn to psychoanalyse your children. Watch them even down to their gestures, for it’s only safer to nip it in the bud. Be good friends with your children, by that they will be able to tell you anything without fear. Lastly, it’s said to train up your child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.