Child Abuse: A hushed disease in our community

By Nusrat Mohammed | Thursday, Jan 23rd 2020 at 12:01
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A topic not discussed in our communities because for most “I was brought up by the whip and I came out okay” Did you really? Are you sure you came out okay? No one has ever wondered that perhaps their negative adult behaviours are as a result of their past child abuse.

In case you do not know what child abuse is (I’m being sarcastic), child abuse is in four categories: Physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Emotional abuse / Psychological abuse and Neglect.

All these types of abuses happen in our community today and they go unvoiced, unheard, and everyone including our priests, our pastors and our sheikhs are mute. I always say there are two persons in the society that are the weakest; the old and the young. They are violated the most with no one to turn to for help. How does it feel to be helpless?

I will start with neglect… I think we are all in one way responsible for neglecting our children. When I was a kid I used to wonder why Westerners have so many broken homes and psychotic kids. Now I live in a Western world right here in Mombasa and we have become just like them. While the West is now learning from their mistakes and encouraging women to have more kids, spend more time with their babies before resuming work. Daycare centers are built right where work places are so women can have time to nurse and play with their babies. Men are encouraged to be home makers. They have realized the importance of parents having more time to nurture their children as they grow. It is vital in raising healthy children not just physically and materialistically but most importantly mentally.

 We have become a social society that is busy with what image we portray to each other and hiding the sins of our perpetrators. It doesn’t go away it just creates bigger monsters in the society. Parents are busy with either careers or social media that they do not have time for parenting. I ask you, which is better? Getting ahead in your career or ensuring your child is safe at home? I’ll be told we have now kept maids who are available for our children’s needs 24/7. Technically we have substituted ourselves for maids. Maids are taking over the time we need to bond and parent our children. Maids that we have not vetted, that we do not know where their homes are that we know nothing of the state of their mental health or crimes they may have committed before. We are totally clueless in what happens in our children’s lives because we want social lives.

Our children are picked by tuktuks and vans and paraded around town for hours end. You will say I have no option but to do that, but there are so many safety nets we can put in place to ensure their our children are safe yet we don’t bother. Who keeps a timeline over how long a trip to and from school takes? Who has a copy of ID card of the driver that takes her child to school or madrasa? Who has bothered to ask the school what time his or her child gets to school. Who has even asked their child if they are treated well by the driver? We don’t bother because we think it can never happen to us….until it does. Right?

Every day we see on social media a child is missing or raped or found dead and this used to happen in places we’ve never heard of before, now it happens right in our communities.. in our neighborhoods and we are still not taking the necessary precautions because we stopped being a community ages ago. The slogan “mind your own business” has prevailed. There was no such thing in our days, we had neighbors that kept an eye on every child in the neighborhood. We lived together caring for each other and as a community. Every oldie in the neighborhood was everyone’s grandfather and grandmother. We have absorbed the ills of western culture and forgotten our own religious community obligations that bind us as one.

Madrasas and Sunday Schools used to be a safe haven for children, now they’ve become a place where the Maalim or a Sunday School teacher can shed his personal anger on a defenseless child. We have incidences of molestation and sodomy in our religious and education institutions and they are all hushed up because we do not want the embarrassment and shame associated with it. So children suffer and those who are beyond repair become psychologically damaged adults, their lives ruined. How is this beneficial to us?? Why do we hide these monsters??

Our family structures need to adapt to the 21st Century changes to equip ourselves and our children positively. We need to actively be involved in our children’s lives so we do not miss out on their childhood nor on gaining affection, compassion and love in our families. I think we can all agree that we cannot avoid technology but we can use it positively for our own betterment and our children. We need to constantly remind our children of the evil dangers around us and teach them the means and ways to be careful and cautious and keen…. All in effort to avoid us being part of the “statistics of rape, molestation, child abuse” . At the moment very few of us balance between their careers and family nurturing. Very few of us are consciously aware of what goes on in our children’s lives and minds. It has become a battle between parents on who exactly is responsible for the children, when I essence it is both parents…both are needed in equal quantity for a healthy family. You were once a child, don’t you agree you needed your mom as much as you needed your dad? Why do we forget we were once children with insecurities, fear and worry over love, compassion and need for that parental touch and love and time?

We can sing female and social empowerment every day but if we do not sing child empowerment and child protection every day, we will be left with a very bleak future full of troubled souls that do not have the will to continue our songs because we didn’t bother to include them in our songs of yesteryears.

 

"In 2007, both the Department of Children Services and Childline Kenya decided to join efforts and maximize on their strengths in prevention and response to child abuse.

This saw the birth of the National Child Helpline Service in 2008. 

A short toll free number – 116 was allocated by the Communication Authority of Kenya to the Department of Children Services. The Department of Children Services is the custodian of the Helpline number (116) while Childline Kenya manages the Helpline on a day-to-day basis. © https://www.childlinekenya.co.ke/

 

SPREAD THE WORD ! we need as many children informed of the helpline as possible. 

Photo by Victor Nnakwe on Unsplash 

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