A fourteen year-old boy is brought to the psychiatrist clinic by his parents who were very concerned about a recent change in his behaviour.
Over the past few weeks the boy refused to go to school and spent most of the time in his room. He looked sad, preoccupied breaking into tears for no clear reason.
The parents denied any recent events but when they left the room the boy told the psychiatrist that he was sexually abused by a cousin who was a few years older than him.
When he told his parents they ‘promised to take action’ but the cousin continued to bully him, threatening to abuse him again.
The boy became more distressed when he realised his parents did not take the matter seriously and the abuser got away with it. Understandably he felt let down by his parents which led to his psychological distress.
The above event made me think about the boy's parents and how negligent they are of their son’s well-being.
Being subjected to abuse is a very traumatic thing that can damage one psychologically but having unsupported parents makes the situation worse.
Some parents chose to turn a blind eye and ignore the matter or even worse accuse the victim of making it up.
According to research, most abusers are known to the victims and usually a person whom the child would trust, someone like a close family member, a friend and in some situation even a parent.
The impact of sexual abuse can last for a very long time and deprive the victim of forming healthy relationships with others due to the initial betrayal they experienced from their close family member. Studies show that some victims develop unhealthy coping techniques like self-harm or addiction to drugs and alcohol, others experience a variety of mental health problems ranging from depression to eating disorders.
Some people advocate for parenting classes that would enhance parents' skills to take good care of their children and be mindful of their needs.
So, how would parenting classes help?
The idea of parenting classes stems from the fact that parenting is a skill that can be learnt and improved, not something we are born with.
Most people bring up their children the same way they were brought up, while some become over protective and wanting to provide their children with all the things they never got as children, others become harsh and uncaring because that was the way their parents brought them up.
Some people may argue that parenting classes are nothing but the state's interference with parent’s right to bring up their children the way they see fit, but the argument against is that parenting classes will be optional and designed by qualified psychologists without interference from the state.
Also the consequences of poor parenting are long lasting and often irreversible.
When you read daily news about gun shootings in the schools and other crimes done by young people you can’t help but wonder how did this happen and what led this young person to behave this way?. Was it poor parenting or peer pressure or was it learned behaviour from movies promoting crime and violent behaviour and what can be done to avoid such tragic events in the future?