Jakarta. The number of child abuse cases has reached an alarming level in Indonesia. As of September 2017, the National Commission on Child Protection, or KPAI, recorded 116 cases of sexual violence against children, while there were a total of 120 cases last year and 218 in 2015.
Attempts to reduce these numbers should involve not only state institutions and nongovernmental organizations, but also the public. This was proven to work in March, when a group of mothers helped unveil a Facebook group containing child pornography.
Therefore, violence against children is no longer a private matter. The Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection is developing a community-based integrated child protection program (PATBM) – a network of community members working together to protect children.
1. Start at Home
The first thing to do is to reflect on your parenting style. Do you reprimand your children using harsh words? Have you ever pinched or hit your children to teach them a lesson?
Do not think that violence exists only when the child is tortured or sexually harassed. You may not be aware of this, but some ways of disciplining children that have been considered normal in society are actually wrong. Using offensive words to scold your children, for instance, is a form of verbal violence. The effect may not show right away, but the behavior is surely passed on to them.
2. Teach Children to Be Brave
Parents should start giving sex education from an early age before their children decide to learn by themselves from the internet, their peers, or other people who do not always have good intentions. Instead of making sex-ed taboo, keep an open mind and make your children feel free to share with you.
Tell them who cannot touch their vital organs and teach them to strongly refuse and ask for help if anyone tries to harass them. Do not forget to remind them to immediately report to you if they see anyone who is suspicious, makes them uncomfortable, or even tries to touch them inappropriately.
3. Monitor Their Habits and Surroundings
According to Pijarpsikologi.org, a psychology education and consulting website, parents should monitor their children's surroundings and be aware of any changes in their actions or habits. Pay attention to the content they consume from books, comics, television shows, video games and social media. As we all know, many sexual offenders target their victims through social media.
Parents should also notice if there are any changes in their children's personalities. Have they become unusually withdrawn, anxious, or do they suddenly prefer to lock themselves up in their rooms? If parents find bodily injuries on a child or complaints during urination, for example, they need to ask constantly about what happened until the child is ready to tell.
If parents discover that their children are victims of sexual violence, they need to immediately report it to the Integrated Service Center for Women's Empowerment and Child Protection in each province and/or fill out a complaint form on the website of the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and Child Protection.
The same should be done when you know that your neighbor's child or relative is experiencing violence, such as being beaten or abused by their parents. Though they are not your immediate family, your involvement is needed to stop the abuse before it is too late.
The key of the PATBM, in addition to better protecting your own children, is to make people more sensitive towards the problem in their communities. The government cannot work alone and needs active participation from various elements of society. The PATBM will also help the authorities take action more quickly in the identification and handling of child abuse cases. #LindungiAnak
This article is supported by Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.