Wednesday, 18 December 2019

After the rage, disbelief and gossip...

Day 2 after the article in Mumbai Mirror was published about the teenagers who crossed all boundaries of decent behaviour!

  1. Parents of ‘those’ boys must introspect, how did that cherubic baby that they held in their arms when it was born turn into this devil without boundaries spewing these sick things! Reflect at what stage and age did you go wrong and then rectify it going forward. 
  2. Other parents- did you discuss this incident with your young boys and girls? Please don’t think they don’t know about it. Its best to sit down with them face to face and without going into gory details make it clear to them that this kind of a behaviour is not acceptable and if they are indulging in something similar then they should admit right now or if they know if someone in their circle is doing something similar. 
  3. Schools its time for you to get strict too- have a meeting with your PTA, student council and come out with a better reporting mechanism so that such things can be nipped in the bud and maybe draft some rules and repercussions about such deeds. Words and actions that are not allowed for students and make parents follow them too. 
  4. Impulse control, self-regulation, empathy, the ability to understand right from wrong, moral values, logical thinking and courage not to bow down to bullies- these are the things that went wrong in this case. These are essential life skills; these are what make the difference between a good citizen and a criminal! Time for schools to assess if they are covering these essential life skills in their ‘curriculum’. Time for parents to assess themselves if they are covering these life lessons in their parenting.
  5. Time to also think about a more pertinent punishment for the boys rather than just removing them from the school. They will only become another school’s problem. 

Its time for schools and parents to start working together instead of working against each other. After all  is our future that is at stake here.
Dr. Swati Popat Vats
Parenting Mentor.

Sex and rage fuelled rant…

Sex and rage fuelled rant…

Mumbai city woke up today to a shocking story about how 11 to 14 year old boys were sending messages on whatsapp that were sexually derogatory against the girls in their class. I came to know about the story quite early when my whatsapp starting buzzing with messages from educators, who asked, “which school?” Shame on us for wanting to know which school, rather than wanting to understand what is going wrong with our children and us as a society!

I read many blog posts and social media posts about the article and here are some comments that I found particularly offensive and confusing-

  1. “We should thrash our children left, right and centre and they will then not indulge in such thrash!”- Written by a very educated parent, it suggests that because we are not beating our children, they are behaving this way and that by beating them; they would stop indulging in such things! Height of, sorry to say, but stupidity and illogical thinking! You hit kids, they retaliate, and they don’t conform! They either fear and face mental issues or they become offensive and indulge more.
  2. “We need to talk more about sex, we are not open as a society and that is why our children are indulging in these things!” –incorrect again! Ancient Indian temples had erotic carvings that were quite explicit and left nothing about sex and erotism to the imagination. Do you think there were no rapes in those times? There were!

As a sociology student we had a subject called Women and Society and the history of women in society was about being considered a property through whom the lineage of any culture or society would grow and progress. So it was the woman who was exchanged for territory, money, power and it was the woman who was raped when you wanted to show your power over a particular community or people or adulterate the lineage of any community or sect. Disgusting, but go through the history of rape and this is what is common in ancient communities around the world.

What is the reason our boys and men are behaving the way they are?
Are we failing as parents and educators? Are we too closed up about sex as a society? Is there too much of porn being viewed? Should movies stop item numbers? Should we make prostitution more available?

The solution is not so easy and will have to begin first in the family, with the parents.

  1. Children need to see women being respected in the family, having a voice and children need to see equality being practiced in the family. 
  2. Neither the boy nor the girl should be seen as being favoured or more important. Its time for parents to start being sensitive to gender bias and gender equality in every decision they make about their children and themselves. 
  3. Children need to hear their parents and their friends and relatives talk respectfully about women and girls. Be alert about anyone in your circle talking flippantly about girls or women. And please do not ask young toddlers and children whether their friend is their ‘boy/girl friend’..’Will you marry her/him’…its so sick, that at that young age you are turning every relationship with the other gender into an intimate relationship.
  4. If you are fond of watching porn, ensure that your children never, ever find any trace of it. It’s serious! Children can never get over the fact that their parents watch porn! And that leaves a huge impact on them. 
  5. When your child first asks you about porn or when you feel your children may be knowing about porn, probe with questions to find out what they know instead of being shocked and throwing a tantrum and making them feel ashamed about it. 
  6. Explain to your children what is porn and what are your family’s rules about porn. 
  7. Do’s and don’t about sex, sexual language, sexual references, sexual talk etc. should be discussed with your children, if you find them or their friends misusing it or abusing it.
  8. Children don’t become horrible adolescents over night! It is the same toddler that is now a teenager! So are you there when the child is growing up? Are you bonding with your child daily? Or do you just talk about studies and marks? That drives the worst wall between parents and children, when parents only talk to children to criticise them. 
  9. When you give a phone or allow children to use social media and the net, it should be with a condition, that you would regularly check it in front of them to monitor their use. Yes, you can and should do it as you are a parent and the child is a minor till age 18! Nothing to be shy about, better than thrashing the child!!
  10. Know your children’s friends…all friends. 

In the case of these 11 and 14 year olds, they are not inventing this kind of language! They have definitely heard either their parents or other adults talk derogatorily about women and sex. Or they have seen content that taught them that women and girls are just for sex and you can hurt them with sex. It is a sign of dominant ideology of patriarchy that is clear in their behaviour and that does not come from your genes, it is learnt and imitated behaviour gone unchecked and uncorrected for a very long time. If these boys had been taught to respect and if respect was given the highest priority in their behaviour they would have never ever broken the ‘taught’ boundary of respect.  Its time not only to counsel them but their parents too.

It’s also time to make children understand about consequences and that again will be easier to teach from childhood. It is part of impulse control and self-regulation, and needs to be an integral part of our upbringing and education of children.

Its time for parents and schools to regularly check the ‘mental’ content of children to understand if the content these young brains carry is age and developmentally appropriate and if not then to take immediate counselling action to ensure that we sensitise and sanitise their brains about sex, sexual behaviour and gender respect.
Dr. Swati Popat Vats
Parenting mentor