Learning tough lessons on the field

Learning tough lessons on the field

Over the past week, there have been two viral video clips that have captured wide public attention and sparked off massive internet outbursts. The first incident occurred right here in Bangkok and is currently making headline news, and involved a fabricated accusation of road rage. The accuser, who backed up his pick-up truck and ran over a mid-sized sedan during a fit of road rage, made up a false report of the incident without knowing his actions had been captured on video.

The other incident, which happened in Sydney, Australia, centred around a detestable action by a former Premier League football player at a high-profile exhibition match between Liverpool and Australian legends last Thursday.

The footballer came on to the field accompanied by a pre-teen girl (later reported to be his eight-year-old daughter) and during the national anthem, he was seen holding her in his arms with one of his hands repeatedly brushing her breast. This disturbing move was broadcast on sport channels globally. Despite being as unnerving as they seem, both incidents were claimed to be fruits of naivete. 

The pick-up truck driver, now facing a number of serious police allegations, calls his catastrophic action "naive" recklessness. While the Australian footballer's inappropriate public expression towards his daughter was claimed as pure affection and done in an innocent manner.  

Leave the heinously lying road monster aside as he's already more of a scandalous superstar; let's talk particularly about this case of "fatherly love". 

Unfortunately, when it comes to raising children, there's no room for parental ignorance or compromise on certain issues, especially those including life safety and sexual boundaries. I understand that it is highly possible that the 49-year-old football legend touched his little girl out of nothing but well meaning.

Yet, putting aside the matter of whether the action was either indecent or innocent, shouldn't any display of affection be for the benefit of the child rather than the adult? I don't see how rubbing a girl's chest, regardless of her age, would do her any good. Especially when it's in public. 

I'm not trying to accuse anyone. I'm sure the father has just learnt his lesson on the field -- a very tough one indeed.  

However, in a world full of paedophiles and where high rates of sexual abuse against children by their trusted guardians continue to rise, it's better to be alarmed by just a slight hint of alleged wrongdoing than to simply treat it as another probability.

It's also terrifying for me to have come across some online comments -- in the father's defence -- such as: "Can't people be affectionate towards their own kid any more? Anyone who thinks this is wrong is actually perverted for thinking such a thing."

And: "The girl doesn't look uncomfortable. More importantly it's his daughter so he should always be able to convey his love for her."

Well, let me make it clear to you all: there are certain parts of the body that every child in the world should learn from a very young age not to let another person touch. The breasts of young girls, just like genital areas, are a future erogenous zone and children should be made aware that no one has the right to fondle them in any way. No excuses. How can you tell your child not to let someone else touch their private parts, yet as their father or mother you are allowed to? How about their siblings, relatives, teachers and even priests: are these people also on the list of exceptions?

Parents should know better when it comes to teaching their children about proper sexual boundaries. The crossing of any sexual boundaries, especially when done by the parents themselves, can have serious and negative consequences on children.

They may become confused and grow up believing that their bodies are not their own and that others can do to them as they please.

As a mother of an extremely affectionate 11-year-old boy, I can imagine how painful it would be if a parent's innocent expression of family love was altogether defined as insulting by outsiders.

Hence, physical gestures of affection towards adolescents should come with mindfulness, otherwise it will invite others to see such gestures as an example of parents abusing their roles. 

Vanniya Sriangura is a senior writer and food columnist of the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Vanniya Sriangura

Senior writer and food columnist of Life

Vanniya Sriangura is a senior writer and food columnist of Life.

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