Child abuse is very common in these lands. Contrary to popular belief, abuse not only physically and emotionally, but also sexually is quite common. With the lawsuit that fell to the social media as #ElmalıDavası, this issue once again came before our eyes, which we missed.
As much as we want to overlook it, the truth is that this culture of abuse has been built up systematically and over time. In the middle of our lives. We all know at least one person who has been abused, even if he hasn’t revealed it to us yet. We can only systematically eliminate such a widespread and such an old issue by working together. So how?
First, by acknowledging the prevalence and preventability of abuse. Accepting and knowing that this is a built system is the most important start. If it’s a built system, it could well be overthrown. It can be eliminated with systematic effort. For that, we need to raise our voice. We need to break this silence. We need to stand with those who break the silence. We have to believe in the survivor. As adults, we have to take responsibility for this.
For a while, seminars were organized for children under the name of privacy education. Special zones were determined, and children were given tasks such as “shout, run, tell someone”. First of all, this is an extremely erroneous approach. First of all, it is not possible to talk about restricted regions under the name of special region. Our entire body is private and the owner of the body has a say over the entire body. A child may well be offended by being kissed on the cheek. Restricting a private region does not prevent exploitation, on the contrary, it can make it more difficult to occur.
In addition, the responsibility for preventing abuse rests with adults, not children. Suggesting “shout, run” to a child adds an additional responsibility. It causes the child who cannot escape and shout to feel guilty. The child who feels guilty for this reason may delay telling the event to someone. You cannot reassure your child by saying “you can tell me anything”. However, you can encourage your child in this sense by giving appropriate reactions when he or she tells you something. Children learn by seeing, not by hearing. Children do not need privacy education, they need self-respect and a bodily voice.
What is bodily voice? In fact, it is simply the state of having a say over one’s body. There is a very clear balance: don’t do to a child what you wouldn’t do to an adult. Do not enter his room without knocking on his door. Do not change clothes in public. Do not touch the child you do not know. Get permission to hug or kiss the child you know. If she says “no”, don’t insist. Recognize the no, respect it. Do not force kiss. Don’t like squeezing. Do not demand that children kiss anyone else, give them the right to choose. Don’t make promises based on “I’ll do whatever you want if I kiss you once”.
We can extend this list. We cannot teach children by “telling” that they alone have control over their bodies. We can teach by showing. They learn this from our behavior. Child abuse is much more common in societies where children are not seen as individuals, are not given a voice, authoritarian parenting is encouraged, and children are seen as people who need to be “educated”. We need to start by changing this culture, where it is accepted to deceive children, where it is accepted to scold children with usual sentence patterns such as “there is no child”, “don’t scold me like a child”, and asking the child’s opinion is seen as “pampering” the child.
Physical contact isn’t the only way to show affection. Children and adults are equal citizens. The fact that the responsibility to provide care lies with adults does not give adults the authority to dominate children. Respecting the child is a necessity beyond showing love. Let’s transform the line “Loving my little ones, counting my elders”, which we have been reading for years. Counting my little ones too. Minors deserve respect just like everyone else.