One of the things I love most about the Pinoy culture is its sense of family. It is obvious that most Filipinos respect the elderly and adore the children. One could say the family unit is the “heart” of the Pinoy culture. But like most places in the world, even here, there is an ominous secret shame. It is every parent’s most horrible nightmare. Their sweet innocent child is sexually molested.
The popular myth is that the evil pervert is some stranger. But the harsh reality is the molester is most often a family member or someone trusted by the family. Most children are abused where they should be the safest, in their own home.
In the Philippines, four out of every ten people you see will be a child under the age of 19. One of those four children will have been sexually abused. These innocent little children will be emotionally scarred, maybe even physically scarred, for the rest of their lives. This abuse destroys their sense of self worth and shatters their personal security. The molester does not just destroy their innocence; he or she destroys the child’s entire life.
We as adults, as parents, have a duty to assure every child has certain basic needs. Children need food, shelter, education, discipline, love, affection, nurturing and security. Protection of a child is everybody’s job. When you suspect a child is being abused you must tell the parents and the authorities.
What are the signs that child abuse may be happening?
· The child tells stories of a sexual nature.
· The child acts out sexual activities. They touch or fondle their own and others peoples
· There is a radical change in the child’s normal behavior. They become withdrawn, silly,
unruly or destructive.
· The child starts acting rebellious. They run away or start fighting.
· There is a sudden change in the child’s eating habits.
· The child has pain, itching, discharge, bleeding, unexplained bruising or a change in their
· A sudden onset of bedwetting, nightmares and other sleep disturbances can indicate the
child has problems.
· The child exhibits a fear of certain people or strangers. They do not want to be left alone
with a relative, teacher or babysitter.
I stress these are just indicators. Having one or more of these does not mean your child HAS been molested but just may have been molested. It is an ugly possibility that deserves your attention.
What can you teach your child that will help keep them safe?
· Teach them the difference between “good touching” and “bad touching”. Someone
touching their private parts or wanting them touch the other person’s private parts is
“bad touching”. “Bad touching” must be reported to both Mommy and Daddy immediately.
· Teach your children to stay away from strangers, especially if that stranger wants their
help or offers them money or gifts. One technique is to have them tell you and get your
permission BEFORE they talk to or help a stranger.
· Each child should be taught there are no “secrets” they can not tell their Mommy and
Daddy. They should report to Mommy and Daddy anyone asking them to keep a secret.
· Teach them that taking off their clothes is a private activity. When they change clothes,
take a bath or get naked they should do it alone and not in front of people. Mommy or
Daddy need to be with them even when a Doctor examines them.
· Teach your child to be safe. They should avoid being alone and stay with other children in
groups when possible.
· Finally, if the child feels uncomfortable about the way someone is acting toward them they
should tell both Mommy and Daddy immediately.
As a parent what else should you do to help protect your child?
· Know where your children are at all times.
· Know who your child’s friends are and what they are doing together.
· Be on the look-out for teenagers or adults that are paying an unusual amount of attention
to your child. If they are spending too much time with or giving gifts to your child you
· Chose your Yaya and other people who spend time alone with your child very carefully.
· Do not be mislead by your child’s age. Babies unable to walk or talk have been molested.
· Teach your child that they can talk to you about anything. Even if they make a mistake,
you love them and are on their side.
· Finally, if your child is abused seek out professional medical care. The damage and scars
are not always visible.
If you suspect child abuse, seek professional help from as many sources as you can find. Talk to your Priest, your doctor, everyone who can give you help protecting your child. There is even a web site for your use ( http://www.childprotection.org.ph/index.html ).
The last thing I want to do is unduly alarm parents or scare children. But we MUST protect our most vulnerable, protect our most innocent, protect our nation’s greatest treasure, our children !