Let’s Talk About It: The Sexual Abuse of the Boy-child (Part 2)
Perhaps we must reiterate that the default thought of most on the notion of sexual abuse is centred on the female gender with little or no care towards the male gender. People think that male victims of sexual abuse enjoy the act of being abused, thus it is not really considered an abuse. To put it simply, anyone can be a victim of sexual abuse; yes, even men and boys. The faster we accept this awful reality, the faster we are able to address this issue.
What are the extensive measures that can be taken in preventing the boy-child sexual abuse?
Ø The presence of a parent/guardian in a child’s life is very important. Many details of sexual harassment towards the boy-child, if carefully considered, is made possible as a result of the absence of a parental figure in the child’s life. A guardian/guardians must be with the boy-child during his formative years and must be open with him such that he can confide in them in any situation.
Ø The introduction of sex education in school’s curriculum: The African society is built in such rigidity that talking about sex and sexual discussion is seen as a taboo. Many people, both young and old, do not know what sexual abuse is. This oblivion has led to many engaging in the act without necessarily knowing that they are sexually abusing the child. The careful introduction of sex education in school’s curriculum will help bridge the gap of mishap and educate the people on what sexual harassment is and with this, avoidance will be achieved.
Ø Community sensitization: The world needs to know that the boy-child can be abused sexually so it will be careful with her dealings with the boy-child. Many people are in the dark about the plight of the boy-child when it comes to sexual harassment and this must be put to an end. When the society is very much aware of the fact that the boy-child is also endangered when it comes to sexual harassment, then more careful attention is paid towards the boy-child, going a long way in preventing sexual harassment towards the male gender.
Ø It must be ensured that boys must see harassment as what it is; harassment. Some boys, or the general public, do believe, that whether consented or not, boys would always take pleasure in sexual harassment since they would enjoy the sex regardless, but this is not always true. This thought must be put away, and boys must be told that it is not enjoyable to be sexually abuse so they could cry out even at the slightest sniff of abuse.
Ø The boy-child must be given a shoulder to cry on: In most cases of sexual harassment, the child is not able to cry out because of the societal stereotypical view that boys do not cry and acting like a man entails that a boy must learn to bottle his emotions. This has made most boys suffer in silence. On the other end, if someone is there for the boy-child to tell his problems and issues, then the child would easily open up on any impending case of sexual harassment.
Ø Parents should never neglect their child even if a divorce is inevitable. Joint effort should be made to look after them and their welfare. Taking them to the custody of a guardian or relative should be the last resort and even if it comes to that, they should take them to those very trust worthy and must ensure to always check up on their child at all time.
Ø The boy-child must be taught that being curious isn’t a crime but all suspicious activities or dealing must be reported to his parents, guardian or teachers.
Ø Parents must learn how to talk to their child whenever he confides in them (even after being abused) so as not to respond to him in a way that might further down his spirit and thrash all his emotions. This is so that he such act of abuse would not repeated itself.
Ø Teach children their rights: When the boy-child is taught his rights and that his is special and has the right to be safe, and that being abused is never their fault in any case, then they are more likely to avoid any case of sexual harassment or report it the moment they sniff sexual abuse. The boy-child should be taught that no one has the permission to touch his body without his permission or fondle with his private/sensitive parts whatever the case is.
Ø Communication between the boy-child and his parents/guardian: Communication is the most important principle in keeping the boy-child from being abused. Once the channel of communication between the parent and the child is open, then the boy-child is able to confide in his parent(s) on what is happening in his life. Parents should create an atmosphere in their home such that the child can discuss any matter with them no matter how embarrassing it may sound.
Ø Parents must beware of bringing just any relative to their house. They must ensure that even if they have to bring anyone to live with them, they must know the person and trust the person very well.
Ø When carefully observed, some cases of sexual abuse occur because the child stays with a guardian. Guardian must be implored to pay attention to their ward and created a cool and light atmosphere for them to talk on any matter possible.
Ø Government must put in place heavy punitive measures to anyone guilty of sexual harassment especially towards a child. This would go a long way in curbing the act itself. They should also put in place, institutional framework to deal extensively with cases of sexual abuse/assault. Helpline should be made available in any case of sexual harassment.
In addition, here are tips that might help parents in educating their boy-child and make them less vulnerable from sexual harassment:
1. Talk about body parts early and tell them some are private.
2. Teach your child body boundaries.
3. Tell your child that body secrets are not okay.
4. Tell your child that no one should take pictures of their private parts.
5. Teach your child how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations.
6. Have a code word your child can use when he feels unsafe or want to be picked up.
7. Tell your child he will never be in trouble if they tell you a body secret.
Yesterday, November 19th 2021 marked the celebration of the International Men’s day, a day set apart for the celebration of men, as well as to point out the challenges men and boys face in today’s society. Sexual abuse and its encompassing problems, in relation to men and boys is one of those challenges, and we as a society must do all we can to ensure we reduce it to its barest minimum.