— Content warning: discussion of crimes against children —
The lecherous actions of Herry Wirawan, a teacher at the Manarul Huda Islamic Boarding School and at the Madani Boarding School in Cibiru, Bandung, West Java, have finally been exposed for sexual violence.
Wirawan had been raping his female students since 2016. This incident reminds us that violence against children has entered an alarming red zone in this country.
Violence against kids has reached an alarming level following its soaring trend in various cities in the country. This gets worse as working families become the norm, marked by working mothers and fathers, leaving the kids’ upbringing to housemaids at home. Numerous violent acts against kids such as domestic violence and paedophilia are inseparably linked to the lack of family empowerment. Despite the soaring violence on kids, family empowerment would be the best counter so long as it includes the following elements.
First, kids need to be taught soft skills as a part of their upbringing. In principle, soft skill is a catch-all term referring to various behaviours that help people work and socialise well with others. Parents need to know that soft skills for kids are instrumental in predicting their success in life, now and later, and reducing crime. Their self-confidence grows when parents encourage their kids to act on their interests resulting from their inquisitiveness. Thanks to inquisitiveness, for instance, a child will not easily trust anyone and like anything he or she recently heard and met.
Thus, it is necessary for parents to not be comfortable when their children tend to go silent, submissive, and inactive. Active children need to be prompted through preparation for answers they are asking and seeking that can be understood by their minds. This involves, among other things, basic self-defence mechanisms so that when kids are in danger or confronted with a new and unidentified person who is likely to hurt them, they can respond accordingly.
In Japan, this runs well as parents provide their kids with particular passwords a stranger must say as a part of identification, while in western countries, kids are taught to scream “stranger” if an unknown person approaches them.
Second, control but do not ban the use of gadgets by kids. Parents need to limit their child’s gadget time because technology and gadgets take a lot of quality time away from the family. It often happens that kids find it really hard to communicate with their parents because they do not spend much time speaking with them except when they need money and look at them like they are a money machine.
Due to social media, gadgets have been misused for various crimes, like violence against kids. Many paedophiles use social media as their grooming ground in their attempt to seek out their victims. Facebook, for example, is no longer a social network but also a social operating system on which assorted services rely on.
In an effort to protect children from internet paedophiles, parents should consider some tips, like children should never upload a picture of themselves to the internet, never ever give out personal information over the internet, and children should never be left alone in a room with a computer connected to the internet.
Parents can ensure a healthy parent-child-gadget relationship through the use of applications. Kakatu is one of the family-friendly apps in Indonesia, started in 2014, that helps parents limit access to apps and monitor their children’s use of them. Supported by its features to limit access to certain apps, Kakatu lets parents choose which other installed apps their kids are allowed to access and can also set a timer to allow their kids to play with the gadget only for a limited time.
Third, self-reliance should be instilled in kids at home. What parents frequently skip when it comes to rearing their children is the strong correlation between children’s self-reliance and safety. The more self-reliant a child is, the more he or she survives and thrives. Children in the United States, the UK, and Australia get accustomed to saying “thank you” to express gratitude, “I’m sorry” for making a mistake, and “please” when seeking help. Consequently, they will not only be familiar with the ethos of fairness and professionalism in further social interactions but also, they will endure social challenges given their understanding of social norms.
Many research studies suggest that children who fall victim to pedophilic actions are less exposed to independent and democratic values at home, which can come down to poor parenting skills. Parents need to remember that befriending, travelling with, and going out with their kids are effective in implanting independent and democratic values as early as possible in kids.
Bringing the children to the mosque to pray, to a car wash station, or the bookstore will gradually foster kids’ independence. Such regular togetherness sets the scene for children’s curiosity, leading them to have more independent decision-making skills. Parental pressure can have lasting negative effects on kids as they look for an escape which is often abused by child predators.