STRANGER DANGER- Keeping children safe -By Dr. Pradnya Ajinkya

Case Study : Piyush is a 5 year old boy studying in grade I. His parents feel that he may need special help and  bring him to counselling. Parents report that Piyush appeared so sad and distracted since a few weeks. The teachers alerted the parents about Piyush and his recent isolation and poor school performance. The parents and teachers made several attempts to talk to the child but Piyush has refused to talk to them. He continued to suffer alone and seemed confused and afraid to the extent of asking his parents to stay back home.

Therapist : Request to interview the child alone. When the child came to therapy for the first time he was so embarrassed and fearful of what would be asked and how much he should reveal. However, the child was made to feel courageous and strong rather than weakness and welling up. Then suddenly little  Piyush stood up and revealed the bruises on his back and abdomen.  Asking about his life at home and school, he said that there were no problems at home and school. The child shared that an uncle who lived in the neighboring building yelled at him if he refused to visit him. He further stated that he beat him up and shouted at him  for not listening to him. He also threatened to kill his father if he did not visit him. He denied sexual abuse.

Piyush was being physically, emotionally and mentally abused. As the first step speaking to the parents about ensuring the safety of the child by also having the child stay with grand parents or very close relatives if this is feasible when the parents are away at work for the well being and safety of the child before dealing with the neighboring uncle was important.

Here's the bad news: The uncle pulls the vanishing act. He disappeared without an explanation. 

Preparing our children on how to keep safe both with strangers and people known without filling them with fear and anxiety when they are separated from us for a few hours is very important. Talking about stranger safety will also depend upon the age of the child.  By age 4 or 5, it's good for kids to have at least some exposure to other kids under supervision, not adults who are strangers...

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