Children's reactions towards something which they do not understand, or which they have understood according to their own perspective, should not be ridiculed.Obscenity does not produce the same effect on the minds of children between the age of 3 to 10 as it does in the case of an adolescent or an adult.Parents should deal with children with patience.
Four-year-old Sonu was engrossed in looking at colour photographs in a glossy. The picture was of a woman in the nude. His mother was visibly disturbed. She snatched the book from the boy and screamed, "That's not for you." "Mom, is she going for a bath?" asked Sonu. "You devil. You'll come to no good." The mother was livid with anger and Sonu was puzzled.
Six-year-old Deepak asked for a packet of 'Whisper' saying, "Shall we buy it for baby Neeta?" The mother silenced the boy to the amusement of the salesman and admonished the child at home. Deepak did not understand.
Rupan was five years old. When he asked his mother to buy him a "Nirodh" packet, she was speechless with embarrassment in the shop and gave him an indignant stare.
Nikhil's plight was worse. When he showed his father a picture of an intimate love-making scene and asked, "Which movie is this, Dad?" he earned a slap.
All these youngsters have healthy minds that reacted normally to what they saw. It was the parents who reacted in a wrong fashion. Children's reactions towards something which they do not understand, or which they have understood according to their own perspective, should not be ridiculed.
Obscenity is defined in the dictionary as something "offensive to one's feelings, or to prevailing notions of modesty or decency." This is an adult definition and it has no meaning when applied to children. It is cruel to thrust ideas into their heads. If one believes that "beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder", it is also to be believed that
"obscenity is what one sees and not what it is."
It does not produce the same effect on the minds of children between the age of 3 to 10 as it does in the case of an adolescent or an adult. It is not necessary for parents to panic when they find their children exposed to these things. In the modern world of books, literature, television, and computers, we cannot shield our children from everything. If we try it, we may be wrong. Children know how to cope with what they see or hear.
Irrespective of whether the child is a girl or boy such images produce the same effect. A nude picture of a woman or a man is the same to them. It may at best induce giggles in three-year-olds, a mischievous sidelong glance from a five or six year old, and a quick look away from the ten-year-old. For them they are just pictures. They are not connected with reality. They live in an innocent, uncorrupted world and adults need not interfere with their amusements.
Parents who panic and protect their children from everything from death to obscenity should learn that it is natural for a child to be curious. Parents are misguided if they attempt to shroud everything in a hazy cloud and make their children feel guilty of the many questions they ask.
Once children shed their childhood and reach adolescence, they depend less on their parents and rely more on friends and books (if they can read). Many parents ask how to protect them from obscene literature. It is not necessary. Children who read from childhood have a taste for good literature. There are some extreme cases where parents do not allow their children to read even harmless fantasy and romance. It is these children that are likely to go astray in their reading habits. They are forced to hide and cover their books with brown paper and shove them inside along with their school books fearing censorship. This is unhealthy. When children are given the freedom to read what they want, they will ask for suggestions. Over-censoring of children's reading interests is more harmful than useful.
We are quick to pounce on children whenever we see them reading or looking at something that is meant for adults without finding ways and means to keep their minds entertained and occupied. No amount of coaxing and cajoling will help. The best we can do is to set them a good example. We must read good books and watch clean, good movies along with them. Make available a number of good books at home. If we behave in a way that they can be proud of, then there is no necessity for any kind of censorship. They will know how to cope with life.