Whenever you hear cases of child molestation, someone close to the family is always involved. I’m not just referring to close family members, but also to extended family and friends of the family. When you ask a lot of adults today, who touched you inappropriately when you were younger, you’ll get answers like, my cousin, my dad’s brother, my in-law, and it could get as bad as “my dad”.
A friend shared a very personal experience with me. She hails from a very well grounded igbo family, who taught her that every visitor from the village was to be referred to as “uncle and aunty”. One of such ‘uncles’ visited them briefly and he asked that they play a game, where they come up from behind him where he sat and he’d flip them over from behind the chair to his laps. Her two brothers went first, then she attempted hers, but every time she landed on his lap, she felt his penis, and after three flips, though she did not understand what it was, she did not want to play again.
I used to have this lesson teacher, I forget his name. We’d sit around the dining table while he taught us mathematics. He’d always single me out and hit me for not getting my sums. In retrospect, I wonder if he deliberately made me fail.
He’d then have me sit closest to him and instructed I keep my hands on my laps while he taught. One day, he boldly took my hands and placed it over his penis and told me to squeeze on it once in a while. Ignorant me! What did I know. I’d often ask what it was I was holding, and he’ll reply, when you’re older you’ll know. LMAO! The irony though.
Let’s just say I wasn’t a very outspoken child growing up, so I didn’t know how my parents would react if I told them about it, I just knew it didn’t feel right. It wasn’t until he dismissed my brothers early one day and told me to go under the table and lick it, I’d had enough. I boldly walked off to my mom and said “Mom I don’t want this teacher, and if you don’t change him, I’ll never take lessons again” I don’t know what she saw in my eyes but she asked no further questions, I never saw him again.
And for every time I’m with a group of girls sharing this story, 9 out of 10 girls have such similar childhood experiences. No we never forget these things. All grown up now I’m wondering, how do I protect my kids from these predators in “uncle and aunty’s” clothing. We can’t be there always, I mean if my parents were always there, I’d be singing a different tune.
Honestly, I’ll encourage my kids to have a very open relationship with me, listen attentively to even the most irrelevant details so they know not to fear, and that they can tell me anything . I didn’t have that relationship with my parents. I was too scared of getting beaten for saying the wrong things that I didn’t have the courage to say the right things. Let’s help groom confident children, we need to educate them on these social issues and encourage them to speak up when the need arises.
Times have changed, kids are more informed today, let’s ensure that what they know, are the right things.
Who can relate?