14th June 1998
Model: Nirosha Perera
Use the Common Sense Rules
Rules are important so that no one can hurt your child. Here are some common sense rules that you can teach your children in order to prevent sexual abuse:
1. Don't believe strangers who tell you they were sent by your mum or dad.
2. Avoid being alone with anyone who wants to touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable. Don't let anyone touch you in an inappropriate way even if you are just playing.
3. Avoid strangers or other adults who seem suspiciously friendly or give inappropriate gifts.
4. Don't play in deserted areas or go anywhere alone.
5. When at home don't open the door or talk to unfamiliar callers on the phone.
6. Know how to reach an adult you trust at all times.
7. Speak up if you see or experience any behaviour you feel is wrong, if you feel uncomfortable being alone with someone, or if a friend leaves with someone who seems suspicious.
8. If someone tries to abuse you:
(a) Say NO,
Teach your child these rules, put them in a place in your home that you can all see, and assure your child that they can always come to you if they are afraid or if someone makes them uncomfortable. Use your "common sense" and help your child to always be safe.
Child sexual abuse is devastating to both the child and the families around them. We as a community need to come together and be advocates for our children teaching them how to protect themselves. If you have questions or would like more information about this issue, please write to-
Watchful Eye is produced through the collaboration between ESCAPE and Save Lanka Kids.
Six Gifts to Make Your Children Strong
I would put this first, because only those who believe in themselves and in their capacity to meet challenges will be the crisis-copers of the future.
Watch to see where a child's innate skills or talents lie, then gently lead or coax him or her in those areas. A child who is more confident will be what the world needs most, a problem solver.
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm". With children it's not so much a matter of implanting this quality - most of them are born with it - as of protecting it. This isn't easy, because enthusiasm is fragile, easily damaged by scorn, ridicule or repeated failure. Sometimes a small child's enthusiasms may seem amusing to grown-ups. But laughter dampens enthusiasm.
Most children are exquisitely sensitive to pain or suffering in other living creatures. Every parent who has had to console a child desolated by the death of a dog or a cat knows this. This sensitivity can be preserved or it can be blunted. If the climate of the home is one of sympathy and concern for others, if the child sees his parents making sacrifices for less fortunate people, then that capacity is strengthened.
This is a word that has almost gone out of the fashion, but I think we need to bring it back as a teacher. Most of our troubles, if you stop to think of it, may be ascribed to a lack of quiet conviction.
What is crime but lack of respect for law? What is pollution but lack of respect for the rights of others? What is inferior workmanship but lack of respect for quality? Can this sort of respect be natural in children? Respect can begin with something as simple as toy-sharing. It can continue through the story-telling stage, where such qualities as courage, loyalty and honour can be shown to be exciting and desirable to growing minds you can teach respect for the nation by telling children about - or taking them to see places where our history was made: Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa and Anua- dhapura.
The ability to cope with change is certain to be a crucial requirement in the years ahead. How do you help a child acquire adaptability The best way is to encourage those qualities that seem to be antidotes to brittleness of mind or spirit. Parents can encourage it by applauding it, admiring it, demonstrating it themselves through their closeness and affection, children who receive a lot of love turn into adults who can give it. And love is the greatest shock absorber of all.
This last attribute may well be the one the world needs most. It's the bravest quality of all, this ability to look past dark times to brighter ones, to believe that questions do have answers, that challenges can be met, that problems will be solved.
To bring up hopeful children, a parent needs to be hopeful himself. Pessimism, fear and gloom are highly contagious; if a home is saturated with them, a child's natural optimism can hardly servive.
If, on the other hand, he is constantly taught that when there's failure there's always a next time, that when hard times come they can build character and endurance this attitude in itself will make uncertainties seem less frightening and crises less critical.
If a person firmly believes that there is a loving God who cares about people and stands ready to support and help them, such a person has a source of strength that will never leave him. No matter what problem he may be called upon to face, that inner conviction will keep him going until he overcomes the problem or makes a constructive adjustment to it.
F. Fareeza Ziard,
"Don't hang on the phone, don't hang on the phone."
It seems as if my mom can't bring herself to say anything thing else to me these days. My theory is that a wicked witch has cast a spell on her that prevents her from using any of the other normal, "Mother-son interaction phrases" in our conversations. I don't see why she gets so bugged, after all I am very responsible. The longest time I've ever spent on a call is two hours and fifteen minutes.
All this started with SLT taking out full-page ads in the papers, telling everyone how much talking on the phone costs. We were perfectly happy not knowing. This increased awareness isn't doing anyone any good. Least of all the person who pays the bill. In the past they had a hard time dealing with the bill when it came along. But that was only once a month. But now, every moment some parent somewhere, is seeing an already inadequate paycheck flash before his eyes as he listens to an offspring discuss music, lizards or whatever young people talk about with friends on the phone. (I wouldn't know, because like I tell mummy dearest — my phone conversations are restricted to matters of global significance.)
But parents fail to understand that the telephone is one of the most sacred objects in teen culture. It is looked to for solace in times of sadness, and provides a quick and reliable means of sticking it to your friends in times of happiness and plenty. But the relationship young people have with telecommunication isn't always a happy one. The same things that bug everybody about phones bug us too. But we have no choice. Bug or no bug — we need it.
But if there is one thing that would come close to making me hate phones, it's hold music. I detest hold music. Why do you need to have hold music? It's bad enough that they've put you on hold. Do they have to torture you by getting you to listen to stupid music on the other end of the line? The thing is you've got to listen to the music. You don't have a choice. You can't change it, you can't turn it off, and you can't keep the phone away from your ear because then you won't know when the person you're calling gets on line. Why can't people just keep the phone off the hook like in the old days? That's always tons more interesting. And unlike some stupid hold music, you never know what you might hear.
Another thing that puts me off is answering machines. I feel stupid talking to a machine, and I never know what to say to the darn things. It's always an uneven contest 'cos its already got what it wants to say all figured out. Whereas you've got to figure out what your point is very quickly and say it in a limited amount of time. The recorded message is usually very short, which doesn't give you much time at all. Immediately after the beep and you've got to say whatever you've got to say. It usually takes me at least until the second beep to figure out what I want to say. But after that I'm fine.
I have decided take revenge on everyone who has ever made me talk to a stupid answering machine. I'm going to get myself one too, and record a very special message on it. It'll go something like this, "Hello? Er, could you hold on for a minute please?"
Cell phones are in my gray-area of like. I don't understand the obsession with these expensive little carry-around toys. They are intimidating, demanding, and have an annoying tendency of going off at the most inconvenient times. How many people are so important that they need to be contactable wherever they go? (Anyway, not even a fraction of those who own cell-phones fall into that category.)
With phones becoming cheaper and more affordable, the cult of the cell phone is growing. I really don't have a problem with that. If people want to spend theirs or their parent's hard-earned money on piece of hi-tech plastic — they can go right ahead. You have my blessing as long as you remember one thing — it's no big deal. You are not the only person in Sri Lanka who has a cell phone. It's become one of those everyday appliances, like a washing machine or toaster. Nobody carries their toaster around taking great care to ensure that everyone can see it.
Then why with cell phones? Fine, you have a cell phone. Good for you. Use it when you need to, at other times keep it in your pocket, switch it off during plays and you'll be fine in my book.
Any feedback (comments\criticisms) on this column or cool ideas and suggestions can be e-mailed to (Short e-mails please!) at this address firstname.lastname@example.org
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