Nearly on a daily basis we are bombarded with media reports of girls getting pregnant or being sexually abused by relatives and neighbours during this season of Covid-19. The sexual abuse sometimes happens at home under the noses of parents who are supposed to protect the children.
Unfortunately, this abuse is sometimes being done by fathers, brothers, cousins, uncles, grandfathers and known neighbours. The psychological and physical harm to these children will traumatise them for a long time. Some children are destroyed for life and their self-esteem eroded. What happened to our family values? Are parents instructing their children on matters sex? Reverend Prof P N Kariuki in his book “Parenting God’s Way” says many parents have difficulties with their teenage children because of failure to pay attention to their growing period between 0 – 12 years. If children are taught from an early age that nobody should touch them inappropriately, if they are taught to run and report to mum, dad or a significant other when this happens, the abuse would reduce and those involved exposed.
Creating close friendship with your children when they are toddlers will lead to honest communication as they grow. It builds confidence in them so that they are not intimidated by those who plan to defile them. Mothers should personally bathe their children and take the opportunity to tell them about the parts of the body which should never be touched inappropriately. They should be taught at every stage of life in a language they understand.
When I was young, it was common to hear grandmothers and mothers warn girls that “arume ni nyamu”, which literally translated means that “men are animals”. They did not mean to make us hate the opposite sex but it was their way of telling us to keep ourselves as far away as possible from being defiled and we came to appreciate this later in life. Those days were much safer and defilement was almost non-existent. If a girl got pregnant before they finished school she would be stigmatised as it was a rare occurrence. In the four years I was in high school there was not a single case of pregnancy. In this era we cannot use our grandmothers’ language but we can counsel the girls near us to avoid the dangers lurking in the dark.
Children as young as ten are introduced to pornography by those preying on them. Parents should be watchful in this area as it causes great harm to children. These are some of the cases we handle in our counselling rooms where girls have been recruited by their older brothers, cousins and uncles to watch pornography with a warning not to tell this secret to their parents. Later, these girls develop weird behaviour when they go to boarding schools and are sent to us for help. Girls as young as twelve or thirteen are having babies before they mature to be responsible mothers. Many of these girls have no livelihood and their families continue to wallow in poverty.
- 1 Pandemic makes girls easy prey for sex pests
- 2 Society bears guilt for condoning sex pests
- 3 Defilement of hapless girls on steady rise in Coast region
- 4 Expose sex pests, leaders demand
Some children are defiled by workers at home. Parents should create boundaries for their children and be present. When God blesses you with a child, He expects you to nurture that child in the best way possible which includes guarding that child from predators.
Poverty is another reason why many children are exposed to defilement, especially in slums due to living conditions. Yet there are children from such environments who come out unscathed, simply because their mothers are like mother hens who jealously guard their children.
Instilling religious principles in children gives them direction on how to live. The bible exhorts us to “Train up a child in the way he/she should go and when he/she is old they will not turn away from it”. They should be taught that sex is for the married and that there are consequences for those who get involved outside of marriage.
-The writer is a counseling psychologist