IT IS SUCH A PRIVILEGE TO HAVE YOU FEATURE ON THIS BLOG. CAN YOU START BY TELLING US ABOUT YOURSELF?
Thank you so much for having me. It’s always an amazing delight for me to be able to share of myself, and what I do with other people.
My name is Theodora Ayeni. I’m an educationist and I’m absolutely excited for the privilege I’ve had in the past 13yrs to be responsible for the education of young children, of teenagers, of parents, of teachers and nannies because what I do as an educationist spans across grooming the young children and then grooming the teachers via trainings and then grooming the parents as well via trainings and coaching and also helping teenagers through mentoring and much more. I like to call myself the teacher of life.
WHAT IS YOUR OPINION ON THE ISSUE OF SEXUAL MOLESTATION OF KIDS IN NIGERIA?
The first for me is how we take it for granted. Come up close to families, nobody wants to acknowledge that this is going on. One of the other things which for me is a big problem, is our definition of sexual molestation. We think until the penis gets into the vagina or asshole, that is the only time sexual molestation has taken place. We forget all the other subtle ways, where the boy has his penis being caressed by a nanny or by someone and the girl has her boobs being touched. When we open up the definition, then we would be a bit more open about it and it would help us to pay close attention. The truth is no matter how much we decide to be silent about it, no matter how much we pretend that we don’t know, these things will just keep happening. I’ve had to speak to an 11 year old, Jss2 boy who was constantly punished and stroked with a cane 80 times until he succumbed to his senior who molested him. He couldn’t tell his parents because he didn’t know how they would react. It’s very important that schools, churches, parents and the society create an opportunity to speak up. Most of the victims are told to keep it a secret and they do that and get messed up. We need to open up channels to enable people talk about this. I have a son who is going to be 5 in a few months and I tell him there is no secret. I let him know that everything that goes on with his teacher, he has to tell me. If he goes out, he has to tell me what happened where he went to. Just to mention, those who are molested as children, are likely to be molested as adults or to become molesters themselves.
MOST FAMILIES HAVE THE TWO PARENTS WORKING FULL-TIME, HOW CAN WE REDUCE SEXUAL MOLESTATION OF CHILDREN TO THE BAREST MINIMUM?
If you can afford it, I prefer that you leave your children at a creche or at a daycare. If you have a busy schedule, find a creche that works longer hours. Some creches run overnight, they do weekend drop offs. I like creches and daycares because you can take them to court if anything goes wrong with your child. There are also other people around. Let’s assume there is a molester in the team of staff, there is never a time where there would be only one staff with one child in a place alone, so the risk is reduced. If your preference is to have a nanny at home, then please make your home, an environment unconducive for this person to molest your child. Install cameras and make them know there are cameras. Don’t just put cameras, make them know there are cameras and watch it often. Another thing with a crèche is that they have duty roasters and another teacher can notice, let’s say a discharge or an unusual sign, and will notify the parents. A nanny might not be able to do that, so you have to train your nanny well and make them aware. Some parents have more than one nanny because in a bid to find favour with the boss, they can easily say what the other is doing. The main thing is creating a safe environment for your child, depending on what you can afford.
WHAT ARE THE EASISEST WAYS FOR A PARENT TO TEACH THEIR KIDS TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM TOUCHING THEM INAPPROPRIATELY?
As from the age of 2, teach them about their body parts with age appropriate descriptions. Show them the body parts and let them know that nobody is allowed to touch them in certain places. You need to also tell your kids that no one is allowed to call them husband/ wife jokingly or even peck or kiss them. They shouldn’t be allowed to kiss anybody except mummy and daddy. Explain to them what all these mean. E.g “don’t let any uncle call you his wife because you are not married to him, when you are older you will marry your own husband”�. Let’s be straight with them but in a fun way. They would also repeat the same to the molester and that puts him/her at bay. No one should touch them inappropriately, even if it’s just their hair. We should also teach the kids, words that predators use (age appropriate words) e.g.– “can I give you a massage, let me stroke your legs” etc. We need to tell them the actions that are inappropriate, because some molesters don’t go straight for their private parts, they do other inappropriate actions and the child relaxes thinking those are acceptable. So we need to also show them those inappropriate actions, gestures, giving of gifts, cuddles, pecks, so they become aware of what these things are. I tell kids, anything under the nose is a no-no for anybody to touch, so they learn to guard themselves. We need to teach them how to say “no, don’t touch me” Because of our culture, we make children think that no is a bad word, so we need to empower them with the words to use, when someone is trying to touch them e.g. “I will tell my mom�, I will scream out loud, don’t touch me like that”�
HOW CAN PARENTS RECOGNISE SIGNS THAT THEIR CHILD IS BEING SEXUALLY ABUSED?
There is the physical and non-physical sign which has to do with emotional or behavioral proof that the child is being molested. For physical signs, the child can get an STD, can have soreness in their private parts or whichever part is being abused, can bleed or have an infection. For non-physical signs, a child can all of a sudden start acting out inappropriate sexual actions. They can become extra secretive because abusers always tell them to keep their acts a secret. They can become unusually quiet. Depending on the personality of the child, the child might have anger outbursts often rather than being quiet. Some may start feeling insecure and have the fear of particular people, places or ambience. You might not notice mood swings, or the child can be withdrawn or get too clingy. They can start having nightmares or have a sleeping problem. Eating habits may change drastically and they may start trying to harm themselves. Seeing one of these signs doesn’t mean they are being molested, but I tell parents/teachers/nannies each time I do a training to pay attention to these signs and be observant. When you notice a change, have conversations with the child. The questions should be open ended and should stimulate them to open up, e.g. “why are you so afraid of being in the dark? � why are you so afraid of being with aunty xxx?�
HOW CAN THE PARENTS AND CHILD OVERCOME THE TRAUMA OF SEXUAL ABUSE?
There is no one-rule-fits-all step but I will share a few things that always works. First, as a parent, you first need to be able to manage your own emotions because once you come to the knowledge that your child has been abused, you will feel a mixture of emotions such as anger, anxiety, failure, shame which are unhealthy. Show yourself some compassion so you don’t break down, build a healthy support system or seek help from a therapist/coach. You have to help yourself first before you are able to manage your child. After this, you can go into talk therapy for your child. Create an environment where it is okay for the child to talk without fear of judgment or harm. Sometimes interjections shut them up, so my personal advice is to go to a professional who can manage their emotions and let them vent until it is necessary for you to speak. The next thing to do is to build a safe environment, you probably allowed a few things slide knowingly or unknowingly before, so the child should now feel safe. Even if you never used to say it, take time to say and show that you love them especially at a time like that. Also show them that you are not blaming them for what happened. Don’t make statements that would infer that you are blaming them as it would further break them. Let them feel like you will keep them safe going forward. Give them a feeling of security. Make sure your approach speaks through these things- I love you, I don’t judge you and I am ready to make you safe. If you love Jesus, please add some prayers.
ARE THERE WAYS TO RECOGNISE PAEDOPHILES? SINCE NO ONE EXACTLY LOOKS LIKE ONE.
It could be anybody. People who are predators like a lot of physical affection. Even if the child doesn’t want to play with them, they playfully insist on it because they know what their mission is. The person also comfortably invades the privacy of the child, they easily want to answer a question for a child or speak on their behalf. They always have a preference for their target, and they are not as nice to other people. They usually give gifts to their targets to make them feel special. They might also like to spend time alone with the child away from the crowd. They are overly interested in the child sexual development and make statements like “hey look at your breasts, they are growing “
�IN A BID TO PROTECT KIDS FROM PAEDOPHILES, HOW CAN PARENTS ENSURE THAT THEY ARE NOT GOING OVERBOARD AND BEING OVER-PROTECTIVE?
Don’t go overboard by stopping them from going out totally because that might make your job more frustrating because they may get creative in other ways. You want to educate them sexually instead, so they can hear your voice even when you are not there and make choices that protect them and you as well.
FOR KIDS AND PARENTS THAT HAVE BEEN THROUGH SEXUAL ABUSE AND WOULD NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP TO HANDLE THE TRAUMA, WHAT/ WHO WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?
It is important that both the child and parents seek professional help, beyond healing from the trauma, it would help them build a healthy relationship going forward. If I wasn’t recommending myself, my favourite place to recommend would be SOBCA because they have an amazing line up of programs and coaching sessions that can help. I do a lot of parent coaching, teenage mentoring and coaching, I do a rebirth propeller course which is good for adults that have been through traumatic experiences and want to heal and rebuild their life and their self-perception. I do parenting courses that parents can take so that they become more aware of how to help and support their kids around the home. I do nanny courses so if you have domestic staff, you can take advantage of it. I also do school support system, so if you are a parent, you can suggest I come to speak to the teachers and staff in your kids’ school so everyone is more aware. I run this video series that teach people about life, managing emotions, finding purpose especially after challenging situations. That is not a paid service and you can follow that.
THANK YOU FOR SUCH INSIGHTFUL TIPS, PLEASE CAN YOU SHARE YOUR CONTACT INFORMATION FOR THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT YOU.
I am so glad I could help. Thank you for having me. My social media handles and contact information are:
FB: Theodora Ayeni
YouTube: Teacher Dora Channel
Phone number: 08062802783