Rotary Club of Pondicherry Beach Town, D 2981, conducted a public awareness event to understand and resolve some of the pressing concerns faced by modern-day parents and sensitise them on child and adolescent sex abuse. Following the continued gang rape of an 11-year-old, hearing-impaired child in Chennai by 16 men and the rising crimes against children, the club “wanted to address the burning issues faced by parents and children alike in this age of smartphones and social media hype,” says the Club President Jigar Patel.
Five speakers addressed over 1,000 parents on topics ranging from child abuse and how to deal with it, smartphone addiction, and how to raise a ‘happy child’. Says Patel, “While it is uncomfortable, this is an important subject every parent has to discuss with their children. This is about helping the child understand the ‘stranger’ he/she might already know. Statistics state that 90 per cent of the time when childhood sexual abuse occurs, it is someone that you know and trust. We wanted to give the parents the message that you cannot trust anybody with your child.”
This new-age parenting event also offered tips on how to cope with the unique challenges that parents face today. As a parent, Patel says that he realised that “yelling at your child doesn’t make you look authoritative. It makes you look out of control to your kids. It makes you look weak.”
A common mistake, he says, that most parents make is assuming that they know exactly what their children want. With both parents involved in their careers, “we prefer to give them a mobile phone and stop them from crying rather than having a conversation with them. It has come to a point where children cannot sleep without watching a video or playing a game on the smartphone. In an attempt to making parenting easy, we have only made it more complicated.”
A video to highlight the importance of polio immunisation was also played for the parents.
As a follow-up of the event the club plans to reach out to more schools in the region and conduct more awareness programmes.