Sometimes I recall the real-life stories students told in our secondary school days. The events in some of the stories are still clear, especially the stories in which the children were harassed. Many of the stories of harassment occurred when the children spent their holidays outside their homes.
A girl once recounted how she had a full view of the bedroom intimacy of a couple she spent her holidays with several times when they thought she was asleep in the night. It was obvious that her parents were careful to keep such private marital affairs from their children. They would be shocked to discover how much damage a few days or weeks of holiday their daughter had outside their home has caused to her proper physical, social, psychological and cognitive development.
There were many such stories. A girl recounted how a cousin who spent a holiday period in her house sexually harassed her during the day when her parents were not around. A boy said he was hit with a stick and he lost an eye in a relation’s house during a holiday period. There was also a story told by a girl on how she was quickly recalled by her parents after she was harassed by her sister’s husband during a holiday period.
My opinion is that every child’s holiday opportunity should be thoroughly reviewed before it is accepted. The review will throw up some critical questions that would beam parents’ search light on the intending holiday home environment to reveal its suitability.
- Does the intending holiday home have family values that are consistent with the child’s family values?
- Will a responsible adult be available to take care of the children (night and day) during the holiday?
- Is the holiday home environment properly regulated and restricted in terms of access to television, movies and telephones?
- Have the children been educated on how to quickly identify, firmly resist, and urgently report sexual advances? Education against sexual abuse is a necessity for children of all ages before embarking on any holiday.
- Is the holiday environment child friendly? I am sure no parent will expose a child to a holiday environment where he would lose an eye as a result of the beating he will receive for telling a ‘lie’.
A holiday opportunity will be worthwhile if the parents have a reasonable assurance that the children will be left in the care of a responsible adult with integrity in a safe and healthy environment. Parents should please refuse any holiday request that may expose their children to harmful experiences.
-Uchenna N. Nduka