Serious advice on Care of Children by Gayathri: Teacher, Mom and Friend

Hello All!
I saw Gayathri's mail couple of days back! It happened that the same evening I saw the subject dealt with in an Oprah rerun on Starworld. Oprah was offering USD 100,000 to anyone who informed FBI about such predators and which resulted in an arrest. Some of the stories Oprah spoke about were shocking to say the least. Being a victim herself she is hoping to change things in the US state by state to see that known offenders DO NOT get away so easily.

Gayathri speaks about old times. I am sure there were predators even then. But we had 'Kavalu' or were protected to a greater degree than now. There were not so many new gadgets which even the parents do no understand! Moreover our people are all over the globe and are in very different situations needing totally different approaches to the problem.

I thought it such a serious subject that I would put it on my Blog and try to send it across to a wider audience. You know how busy teachers are! .... Nidhi

Wrote this on Friday, but added to it yesterday and putting in more today!! Sending it today as there is so so much going on at school that I have been writing this in bits & pieces!!! Love!

Hello! its Fri and am I happy or what! I have tons of grading I have to still do and the piles are in the tv room . But at least the grades for the 3rd quarter are done so that pressure is off. PTC is on 23rd so the grades were all due on wed.
yesterday I went home and watched Larry King. I don't think I have ever ever seen such a moving and heart-wrenching program. He was talking to his guy, Chris Hansen who conducts this program To Catch a Predator series on the 'Dateline NBC' and has also written a book. It is about catching sexual offenders, particularly those that seek under-age minors.

There is an organization which has more than 100 members called perverted-justice. com lead by this man called Xavier Von Erck, and what these member do is visit chat rooms posing to be young boys/girls. Now, they just put such decoy profiles but never solicit anyone on their own. But if any person approaches them on their own, then they set up this dummy house where they set up a meeting with that person. That house is monitored by the police , and inside the house is this TV person with cameras and all. When this person enters the place, they video tape everything and not secretly either, as even soliciting such an act is an offence by itself. It was just too shocking to see what kind of people get caught - most of them have had such charges against them before but the compulsion is so bad that they risk everything and even drive long distances to get there!! They look like the uncle next door. There are school teachers, fathers, hospital workers - not one of them would you even think of suspecting.

And there is this man, Walsh, who conducts the Americas Most Wanted program after his son was kidnapped, abused and killed many years ago. He was interviewed as well. He was amazing in his sincerity and commitment. You guys may have read about this 54 year old man who has been sentenced to death in America (I forget which state) for kidnapping, abusing, and killing a 9 year old girl. This child was kidnapped while asleep in her grandparents home! and this man had been visiting with some family that lived right across their house. After he killed her, he buried her almost right behind the house which was visible from her grandparents house!! and her body was found a month later. This walsh person was in the courtroom when this guy was sentenced and they showed clips of the trial. It's the scariest, saddest thing on earth to see the parents of the child and this man who committed the crime.

And all the people who came on Larry king had some common pieces of advice for parents and kids to which I am adding on some of my own thoughts and suggestions:
Listen to your child when they report anything out of the ordinary - I know for a fact that when kids talk, they generally make a story of everything and sometimes, if you are in the midst of cooking or cleaning or watching tv, it is very easy to just keep nodding and saying "how nice" and "really" without hearing a thing. But kids pick up on that and will stop telling anything.

Computer use: Absolutely to be monitored: it worries me to think of what may be happening in a place like Thailand where kids are in the care of maids who have no clue whats happening on the computer. the computer must be in a place where one parent at least can keep an eye on the proceedings ALL the time. You need to have the comp set up so that you can view the history and see what your child has been up to.

This advice was given on the program: NEVER EVER have a webcam connected if your kids are at an age when they may be able to use it. It allows strangers into your house and since all kids are performers by nature, they may do things which can cause serious harm. The webcam should be disconnected and kept under lock and key.

Information: Kids need to be taught and made aware of these dangers. They need to be told to look out for each other, and of ways in which they can get help if they feel they are in a dangerous situation.

Sleepovers at friends' homes: DO not send young children even if you feel it is a known family. Even when they are more grown-up, send them only if you are absolutely confident that you know the people and even then, only if there are going to be a group of kids sleeping over. Ask your kids what they did while in the friends' home and make sure you call a few times even at the cost of irritating your child!

Domestic Help: Do NOT allow domestic help to attend to the child during baths, and dressing up. If you plan to leave the child alone with the maid or a baby sitter , do so when absolutely necessary and even then preferably by leaving both child and maid at the home of a trusted friend or so. Once you get used to leaving the kids home and going out, it becomes so very tempting to get that time for yourself - which is absolutely understandable - that it then becomes routine and many times becomes something that is a taken - the people supervising at the time you are away will become more casual (careless?) knowing you are not that particular about what is done when you are away, and the child will realize that even if they say they do not want you to leave, you will go anyway! So much so you will find that the child does not even create a tantrum when you leave them behind! that is NOT a good sign - kids are supposed to cause a fuss when parents leave them behind - unless of course they are teenagers, in which case it is all the more important NOT to leave them behind without absolute supervision!

It just appears that it is not possible to trust anyone, but when you hear of all the things happening out there, it is no longer possible to ignore certain measures. May be such things always happened but never got reported as the victims would have been shamed into silence, but what worried me is that , and I am quoting this from the transcript of the show - "There are 605,000 convicted sex offenders in the United States, 100,000 of them are out there at large right now in non-compliance with their parole and probation. Those are just the creeps we know about."

Can you imagine what the situation could be in say, Thailand, or India where the practices, the monitoring, the communication is practically non-existent? Plus the fact that people still believe that all the evil is in the west and we are all nations of saints. Plus the whole mental block in dealing with anything unpleasant and considered "un-religious". Its scary stuff but it is definitely something to be aware of and take care about and never ever feel it is something that happens to others only.

I saw it and immediately felt it is something that everyone needs to be aware of and learn to be alert about. It is so sad that we even have to consider in such factors in our daily life - says volumes about the kind of world we live in. I remember times when the only advice mums gave had to do with what "tadka" to put for sambhar and what to put for rasam!

I know, this has gotten to be quite an intense mail - but you know how sometimes a particular thought comes to mind and we think we should send this info to people and then forget about it??

Well, I decided that this is one that has to go! So there.
With lots of love and prayers that people recognize their own humane side and help keep our children safe.
God bless.
Mummy, Aunty, Gayathri


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