Sexual harassment among children
It took me a long time to convince Um Yazan to write about her problem. She finally did. You can read the article on 7iber.
I came across this lady in one of the lectures that have been organized through the project Citizen in my City project, in one of the local communities. I won’t mention what community, because she specifically asked me to keep all these details confidential.
I will go back to Um Yazan in a bit, but now, I will give a brief about the lecture, so that people understand the background.
The lecture was about violence in general. However, the lecturer spoke a lot about sexual harassment. She was explaining to parents why their kids would not approach them if they were facing issues of this sort in their lives.
“ if your kids tell you they did bad in an exam, and your reaction was to take the slipper and throw at it them, they would start thinking that if my mom did this with something silly, what would she do with there is something shameful involved?”
I thought she had a good point there. She encouraged women to get their children to talk to them, even if what they is childish and silly. This will increase the chances of children talking…. I am not sure how true this is… but I think children can slip when they are younger… however when they get older, it becomes more and more difficult to talk about things like that with parents…. but Ya3ni… it does not harm. On the contrary it definitely helps.
Um Yazan’s Predicament
Um Yazan happened to be in one of those lectures… she went blank in the middle of the lecture… she approached the lecturer afterwards in a panic mode… she had realized what was happening to her son yazan (an assumed name).
For the longest time, she was not sure what to do about the change in his behaviour. He stopped eating, became edgy and angry and became aggressive with his siblings… but what puzzled her most was his persistence on wearing very shabby clothes! She knew something was wrong but could never decipher the signs.
When she talked to the lecturer, she started crying helplessly… she said that she suspected something bad was happening to her son… she could not even bring herself to give it a name. ..
After that, things moved quickly, she launched an investigation at the school with the support of the right channels, and did what was needed…
It turned out that her son was being harassed by an older student … (a kid himself), whom in turn was being harassed by someone older somewhere in his own neighbourhood! The story was really shocking! Victims turn into predators… I think maybe it is a normal human outcome! And honestly, who know maybe that would have been Yazan’s future?
Yazan is being helped by a counsellor now… and the other kid too…everyone is a victim in this story… and hopefully they will start leading normal lives now.
As I was involved in the story from the beginning, I was trying to convince um Yazan to go public with the story. Bring the issue into the spot light… but she refused stubbornly…
Honestly she had a good point.
She explained that they come from a very conservative background. If this was happening to a girl, it would be a shame and end of story. But if it is a boy… (and here is the surprise) it is double shame! He will be accused of not being a real man (which is silly, since he is only 11), he will start being bullied in the street and in the school… but worse… the family will start abusing them… I don’t even know where to start if I want to explain the complexities there… sisters in law, brother in law, cousins… competition, jealousy, favouritism, inheritance, gossip…
ya3ni… going public will only open Pandora’s box.
Heavy negotiations took place between her and her husband… she was angry and wanted to do something….the husband agreed to seek help, but refused to go public… his concern was that this will stigmatize their son. His opinion was that now that the boy is being treated, khalas they can move to a different neighbourhood, change schools, and start fresh. Basically, give the boy a chance to put this in the past and move on….
But if they went public…this will be the most important thing about their son forever…. and since their community is very small, he will never be anonymous, he will always be remembered as the boy who was harassed at school.
Yazan’s parents explained…that their duty is to help their son and not save whole world…they won’t be able to, they said realistically….
This is why I appreciate her writing the article.
I sympathize with them, and with the hundreds of families who suffer from similar issues in silence…