2020 has seen our kids stay home longer than any year in history, due to the raging COVID-19 pandemic.
I cannot help but burst into inexplicable delight when I think of the merry and good cheer that will be doing its rounds this and early next month. Mine started early and it feels like every day is freaking Christmas day! Home cooked meals, road trips, visitations, family parties or gatherings, family bonding times, kids bouncing on those colorful castles if not participating in face painting and other similar amusing activities. Well, if only the increasing numbers of new infections are effectively managed.
I had a random conversation on parenting with a colleague who complained how she’d noticed her son’s genitals had some odd looking bites. Then I remembered a rather strange incident and felt the need to bounce a word of caution to every parent this holiday season.
Back in December 2017, I went on holiday to the Coast for a week. In the early afternoons, we would take walks and later bask by the ocean, sipping drinks, reading and chatting away as the warmth of the lazy sun soaked our skins. Hotels, resorts, air bnb’s as well as hostels were usually swarmed around that time and got worse as Christmas and New Year festivities approached. Streets, hang outs, entertainment spots, beaches overwhelmingly jam-packed, one could barely get the much needed privacy nor keep track of the numbers streaming in and out of any social space.
After lunch one afternoon, I stepped out for a walk and wound up at a nearby hotel, famously known for their late afternoon/evening live band performances, private beach plus a relaxed ambience. I proceeded to check out the ocean view and found a spot where we would sit and have a good time. There were individuals, groups, couples and families out sun bathing by the sea, playing with sand, running into and out of the ocean waters, amused by the breathtaking views they rarely get to enjoy on a regular basis.
We settled on some colorful sun beds close to the beach with no others up front. The view as usual was fantastic. As soon as we sat, a smiling waiter walked to where we were to take our orders. That was when our eyes met.
A middle aged Caucasian male. I will refrain from calling him a gentleman as I could not ascertain the nature of his gentlemanliness. He never appeared strange or awkward. Just a guy sitting by himself, enjoying his drink. However, beside him on the spare bed were several high definition cameras mounted on one side of the very sun bed he sat on.
I did not spy further but went on to give my order, after which my attention was diverted to the splashing waters of the sea staring in my face, allowing my mind to ponder for a while. The waiter got back, our drinks delightfully displayed on a tray on his right arm. He chatted us happily as he set them in place and stood directly behind the man with the cameras. I found some leeway to investigate some more. I spotted him, this time, keenly followed his gaze. His eyes were staring right ahead of us, at some 2 boys playing in the water. They appeared to be anywhere between 3-5 year old. At first, I ignored and thought they may have been together until I saw an adult male and female the boys kept running towards, sitting to the left. The two adults, who I assumed were the boy’s parents were relaxing at the basking beds sipping beer as they chatted away. They had not noticed anything unusual.
By this time, my instincts had flared up to 150%. I conspicuously turned as if to look for the waiter and caught this guy. Again. He stared in my direction and his eyes quickly darted the other way, aware that I may have connected the dots. Thing is, I was not really sure whether he was filming himself or others. The boys were still playing right in front of him, bare chested with only their under wears on.
I eventually confirmed the guy was filming the young boys after establishing the camera light was directly facing the boys, reclined a little lower to capture their activity. He had a towel covering his thigh area and kept looking around him suspiciously while adjusting the camera once in a while and a few rubs around his genital area. GROSS.
The parents to these kids went on doing their thing, unbeknownst to them, a predator was lurking in full glare of the unsuspecting public. I did not know what to do, but thought someone ought to know what was going on. Everyone around appeared too busy to take notice. Long story short, I mentioned it to the waiter when he came back around. I still wonder whether anyone else observed what I did. Or whether the waiter even bothered to report to management. I probably should have, but what if I did not have any substantial evidence to lay my claim? Thinking about the dangers our kids are subject to these days literally leaves my tummy in knots.
Many parents think other kids get abused, not their own but honestly that could be further from the truth. Any child can fall prey to abuse. I have no kids of my own but that incident totally freaked me out. To imagine how risky it is to leave kids wandering off on their own, even when you think they are within earshot.
Imagine this man, confidently filming children, without a care in the world. Sadly, this is what this world has turned into.
Child predators are everywhere. They can be anyone and come in all body shapes, sizes, characters, most will not arouse the slightest suspicion. As parents, you need to be extra vigilant whom you trust your kids with and around. Do not lose your guard even around the nicest and kindest of strangers. Even when that pint hits your G.
May you not forget that according to statistics, sexual abusers are mostly relatives, very close relations if not close friends of the abused. Takes me back to the quote I translated on my last blog post. “Kikulacho ki nguoni mwako.”
So as you go about your adulting activities this holiday, keep one eye out to spot and stop any attempt by someone known to you or a stranger from messing up with your children.
Your babies are your responsibility, your greatest investment. Protect them at all costs.
Wishing y’all a wonderful and safe holiday and a happy new year 2021!