Wednesday, February 23, 2005

How Do We Fight The Silent Pandemic: Child Sexual Abuse

My main thing is how can it be reduced, if not stopped? How people who care can raise kids who are less susceptible to the seduction and less forceful or violent approaches of predators?

I remember Toni Morrison having this conversation with Oprah about making children understand their intrinsic value. Not the irrelevant pretty or cute but the deep down earnest recognition of their human value. That according to Morrison is the way to arm children with the strength to say "no!" and to speak up in their own defense.

I also will add that a more honest and continuous discussion about sex and sexuality that is age appropriate would help tremendously.

I believe however for African women in the Western world these are huge demands. According to an article I just read in Essence Magazine
:"You also see it in how we feel about our bodies and how we teach our daughters to feel about theirs. A woman who has been sexually molested or abused feels intense fear shame and anger, even though she may not share it. During slavery we had generations of women who were sexually abused, women who learned that their bodies were not their own. The legacy is that we teach our daughters to be ashamed of their bodies. We try to protect them by explaining sex and sexuality in a punitive, prohibitive way. We say" Girl, keep your legs together," rather than arming them with real information about healthy sexuality, relationships, pregnancy and birth control."
And that is when anything is shared at all.

I know it is a big ask for women steeped in the wrong way for centuries but women especially African women have performed miracles in dire circumstances before. Can we do it and can we wage war on sexual abuse by bringing forth children and daughters, who know their value, who know they are so loved that they can speak up? Are we ready to change so we can also listen to and believe our children when they do find the courage to speak up?

2 comments:

Abeni said...

It real scary to think that all a parent try to teach can be wiped away in a flash.I suppose you have to keep on with the education and then pray.

ThandieLand said...

abeni, this requires a paradigm shift to use one of those 90s buzz phrases. You see I feel if parents are doing the right things the abuse should not happen more than once. Maybe even the lead-up to the first instance can be waylaid in its track.

Studies have shown that even after an extended abuse situation,the child who recovers and adjusts best is the one whose parents believe him/her unequivocally and then proceed to prosecute the abuser, even if the case has no chance in hell of being successful.

One disturbing thing though: Is that medical practitioners in Dominica have indicated that more and more female toddlers/babies on examination are showing indication of disturbances to the vagina; which maybe pointing to offenders who are smart enough not to cause too much physical trauma at once and to choose children too young to talk.

It is disturbing but it something I came across doing research with health practitioners. It makes one paranoid no rass and it supports in part what you say. Parents can do only so much because predators find ways to undo anything the parents can do, so easily.