The issue of child sexual abuse is evident all over the world and daily becoming an increasing societal problem. Our work, as contributors to social change, demands that we seek solutions to this problem. In doing this, we sought the help of a renowned Child’s Rights Consultant with the UNICEF, Mr Taiwo Akinlami, who enlightened us on this topic through a twitter interview with our PRO, Njideka Raleke-Obiora. These are excerpts from the chat.
Mr Akinlami who prefers to call it “Sexuality Talk”, says “it simply means helping primary and secondary caregivers and children understand their sexuality and defend same. Sexuality simply refers to the physiological and psychological components of a gender according to their purpose”
Child sexual abuse is any sexual act with a child performed by an adult or an older child or mate. It may also include any act or omission of the caregiver, which compromises the sexuality of the child and includes exposing children to music and movies with explicit or suggestive sexual contents. It also includes making suggestive statements to children like an adult calling a child his/her wife/husband, sexual touching of any part of the body, clothed or unclothed, these includes everything from obscene exposure, to touching the genitals in a sexual way and rape.
On the need for sex talk, he answered that until we are educated about our sexuality, we do not understand it, not to talk of protecting same. The goal of education on this matter is to impart knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to protect children. This child protection intelligence he said, asks one question: “what are the measures put in place to protect children from sexual abuse?” He went on to add that till we can vouch that we have professional measures put in place to protect children, they are not protected
Answering our question on the importance of sex talk at home, Mr Akinlami says that parents have a responsibility to protect their children against Child Sexual Abuse and not leaving it to chance. This responsibility begins with talks/education, he reiterated. Involving children in their own protection from when they can talk and hear. To do this, the parents need to educate themselves also to enable them educate and protect the children because a child who is not taught about his/her sexuality does not understand its value and d need to protect same.
He also revealed that parents still shy away from having this talk because of the environment we live, but advised that going by statistical increase of this menace, it is time to speak to speak to our children. To do this, he suggested that parents should begin by demystifying the subject of sex and sexuality, making children comfortable and then help them to name their body parts in their actual names and their purposes. He advised to also the teach children about what are good touches and bad touches and how to react to them.
He made it clear that when parents and childcare givers make children comfortable, they will be pleasantly surprised at how open children can be and the questions they will ask, stating that the challenge is that many primary and secondary caregivers are ignorant of their own sexuality not to talk of what to teach. In closing Mr Akinlami said that no matter how sound the sexuality education parents and guardians give to our children, the bulk of the responsibility of child protection is on us. Every single person that interacts with children or works with children.
We need to be conscious about the message we are sending children about their worth. We as social care workers too and you that have the opportunity to read this, have a lot of work on our hands to do in protecting the lives of our children and we believe conducting this interview is a step towards reducing this wrong to the barest minimum.