The recent gangrape of a four-year-old in Kanpur, at the hands of four boys aged between six and twelve, is shocking, to say the least. How can six-year-old kids, barely old enough to write full sentences, engage in such a heinous act? How do you even comprehend a gang rape by six-year-olds?
We must seriously introspect where, why and how our young boys are imbibing these tendencies of sexual violence. It’s not a pretty thought to look at boys studying in your daughter’s class and have to consider them as potential sexual perpetrators. But unless we act now to prevent further such incidences, this might become a frightening reality of everyday life in India.
Shielding boys from violent tendencies is our social responsibility
Where does one point the finger here? To inattentive parents, who weren’t aware of the fact that their boys had been watching porn? Or to our social inability to create awareness among children about what counts as predatory behaviour?
Indian parents need to monitor what minors are consuming on the Internet and smartphones today. This case is a very disturbing example of how unchecked web access among children can lead to a catastrophe. And how without proper sex education, access to pornographic content can lead to misconceptions about sex. One of the suspects is a twelve-year-old here, an age some parents consider mature enough to handle a mobile phone.
Another important aspect is educating children about what is predatory behaviour.
We tell children about being wary of bad touch. What we do not teach them, is that they must not touch another child inappropriately either. In a hoard to prevent victimisation of our kids, we have forgotten that our kids are at risk of predatory behaviour themselves. Unless we do stimulate the sense of morality which would help them identify the wrong behaviour from right, sexual safety is a lost cause in our country.
As a society, it is our collective responsibility to shield young children from sexually explicit content. It seems like an impossible task, especially considering how we have normalized sexual objectification in our society.
It will take decades to get rid of the ubiquitous misogyny in India. But our starting point can be the young impressionable minds of children. Merely flipping channels when a provocative song pops up on the television or thrashing a boy caught watching porn is not enough. Let’s tell them what is wrong with mindless consumption of this type of content.
Not just as parents, but as a society, we must reach out to boys and girls and create sexual assault awareness. We also need an open channel of communication with our kids. So that they can confide in us if an elder is motivating them to watch porn or indulge in activities which they instinctively feel are inappropriate. Preventing children from turning into abusers is as much our responsibility, as is protecting them from abuse. Let's act before we lose an entire generation in the quicksand of sexual violence.
Picture Credits: IndiaTimes
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.