BENGALURU: With increasing awareness about child sexual abuse, parents are becoming more wary about whom their kids interact with.
Recently, a 24-year-old Cisco employee had a bad experience when he tried to talk to a six-year-old.
He was returning home from work, tired, he says.
“When I saw a cute kid playing on the ground near the apartment, I asked her her name and struck up a conversation,” he adds.
When he extended his hand to shake hers ‘suddenly a lady appeared and yanked her away’.
“She glared at me and told me not to harass her child. She did not even care for my explanation!” he says.
A parent of a girl who goes to a school in Ayyappanagar says she doesn’t let her daughter play with boys. “Nobody can be trusted,” is her reasoning.
‘Don't Make Them Clam Up’
Psychologists say such hyper-vigilance can be counter-productive.
“I have seen controlling parents who do not explain things to their children clearly,” says child psychologist Neha Cadamba of the reputed Cadamba Hospital.
“If the parents educate kids properly, tell them to be alert, and inform them if anything happens, there would be greater security,” she continues.
The counsellor says, otherwise, children might be scared of opening up to parents about abuse and harassment. Often, they fear emotional outbursts, and hence keep mum.
“I have had a case where the mother did not know that her own brother was molesting her child,” she elaborates. “The child did not tell the mother, thinking the blame would fall on her.”
This is often the case with children raised in the helicopter parenting method (when parents are excessively controlling), she adds.
“Since it’s unlikely that they (the children) will be fully informed about child sexual abuse, they might end up feeling guilty,” she says.
Moreover, children always imitate their parents and adopt character traits, she adds.
“Therefore, the kids who suffer parental over-protection could grow up into insecure adults, prone to emotional outbursts,” she says.
Child psychologist Jayashree is more sympathetic to helicopter parents.
“I know many parents in the city. Nobody can tell them to stop being overprotective. There is too much risk involved,” she says. “The society is like that today, and I think the casualty will be human relationships.”
More Adults Wary
An Indiranagar resident has warned her brother, who is moving to the city to stay away from kids though ‘he loves children’.
“Because Bengalureans are very scared for their children’s safety,” says the IT sector employee.
It’s not merely adults parents are watching their children against.
“I pinched a four-year-old’s cheeks, and his mom started screaming at me,” says a 12-year-old resident of Nagawara. Then my friends told me that she’s often like that.”