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    #MeToo starts far earlier..

    Is my child safe at school? She is a girl child; will she be safe on the bus?
    Have you experienced such concerns or met someone who has? Well, I have met many of them.

    #MeToo campaign is taking India by storm and women are coming out and speaking of their experiences which are decades old. But does harassment or molestation happen only to adults?

    Every year I meet hundreds of parents and they candidly share their inhibitions and achievements as parents with me. One of the common strands that come across is how they are fearful of their child’s safety. Safety from the pedophiles and predators who conveniently lurk around in our society.

    One of the biggest concerns while choosing a school and continuing in the same is safety.
    This becomes even more evident when they have to choose a school that is away from their residence. They genuinely feel that keeping a child in a closer school is keeping him/her safer.
    But recently, I looked at some statistics of 2016 which were shocking for sure but were also in stark contrast to what the parents generally believe.
    In almost 96% of cases, children were raped by a known person and not a stranger. A whopping 35% of it was by neighbors and more than 10% by a direct family member!

    While this data is horrifying, it tells us that physical proximity to the child has not as much to do with their safety as having a better bond with them. In most cases, the abuse or rape or harassment does not take place on day 1.

    The predators move slowly. They check if the child speaks up or keeps quiet. The child is unable to speak up because of fear- fear of the adult molester but also the reaction of the parent. They have no safe adult in their life.

    So let us take the safety of our children a step further and speak to them about safe touch- to both girls and boys. Give them the confidence to ward off a predator but also to confide in you. To conclude let us tell them that their safety precedes any other relationship or izzat or societal prestige and that if they feel uncomfortable with someone, they can say so WITHOUT having to explain why. And when they say so, trust them. Don’t force them to compulsorily sit in someone’s godi or give them a kiss even if they don’t want to.

    And lastly, if you have suggestions to make our children safer make sure you let us know in the comments. And don’t forget to like, share and subscribe to Musings of MasterNi

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