Beware of ‘Uncles’

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Yes, you heard me right, beware of uncles. This is an issue that I am very passionate about to the point of forming a ‘one woman riot squad’. Just like almost everything in Naija, the use of the word uncle has been bastardized so much that the only people not referred to as ‘uncle’ are those of the  feminine gender.

See the following lists of people referred to as uncle

1. Teacher, 

‘ Lesson teacher’

  Driver

Maiguard

Neighbour

Bus conductor

Security guard

Houseboy

Neighborhood electricians , plumbers, carpenters etc.

All male relatives apart from one’s father

All males older than the person addressing them.

All male friends of the child’s parents.

All male Nigerians that the person addressing them is not sure of their age.

I have also heard some Nigerian children address a white male flight attendant as  ‘uncle’ on a particular flight I was on.

This no doubt would have emanated from the Yoruba people of Southern Nigeria. They have a culture of too much courtesy and respect, with two different sets of pronoun, one for your mates  and the other for those  older than you, so the word uncle has really come in handy in situations where you are not sure of a person’s age and you would not want to be found to be  disrespectful.

To allay your confusion, the purpose of this post is to examine the evil uncles ‘do’ in the life of your child if given the chance. Lets look at things from the parental point of view, one of the God-given role and an established societal duty of a parent is to protect the child from all types of harm including abuse by sexual predators. There is a lot of sexual abuse going on in Nigeria because of parents’ carelessness and negligence that it is amazing, I wonder how most parents can be so blind and daft to the detriment of their child ( please pardon the strong language). 

A good parent should be able to close all  gaps that a potential sexual predator might use to gain access to their child. The red flags  are very visible and so red that it is surprising that some parents still do not pay any heed to them. Without wasting more time, how can we safeguard our children from uncles and when I say children, I mean both male and female.

1. The term uncle should be strictly used to address your father’s and mother’s brothers only , all other males should be addressed as MR whatever their name is, or Chief, Doctor, Engineer, Eze, etc, whatever title the addressee prefers but not uncle.The term uncle makes an innocent child have a feeling of allegiance to the addressee and might make them feel that they owe it to the person to do as they are told by him.

3. Avoid as much as possible the sharing of the same room by your children if they are of different gender . 

4. Do not form a habit of allowing an older male sibling change diaper of a female child or to spend unnecessarily long time alone with her.

2. The less domestic staff you surround yourself with, the better for you and your children , if you must do domestic staff, let them be of same gender as your child and note that this does not prevent the risk, it only reduces it, there are reported cases of same-sex abuse. Most importantly do not abandon your child completely into their care.

3. If you use drivers, your child should always sit in the rear, the driver must be addressed by their name with MR prefixed and not uncle. Their primary role should be to drive your vehicle, not to help you mind your child, do not give room for any rapport between them and your child , always endeavour to be with your child  or to have somebody with them in the car and out of the car at all times

Came across the above uncle at a clinic, the mum not pictured was busy on the phone, the uncle brought in the girl in a bear hug and the poor girl promptly used uncles lap as a pillow as it would appear she usually does. I could not bear it, I had to corner the mum for a little talk about the ‘red flag’ that I could see, and she thanked me and quickly made some adjustment, she sent the uncle home to go get the female house-help although the girl was not disabled in any way and she could actually walk, I wonder why she needed to be carried or assisted.

4. On any visit to the clinic, hospital or anywhere insist on being in the consulting/examination or whatever room with your child, cases have been reported of children being abused whilst their parents are just in the next room waiting.

5. Take serious offense against any person that gives your child a pet or a special name, like ‘iyawo mi’ ( my wife) ‘my little princess’ or my ‘ big princess’, whatever size of princess, insist that they put an immediate stop to it and that they should please call your child by the name you gave them. Then you take the next step of putting them under close surveillance henceforth.

6. If you must be friends with your neighbours, let it be a cautious friendship, it is better to be seen  as being standoffish than to be sorry. Do not allow incessant unchaperoned visits especially when the child is underage. And do not turn your neighbours into your child minder. There was a reported case of a female neighbour, (reported by the victim herself when she came of age), herself a mum who abused a female child till she entered the age of puberty, and then the son took over because she spent all her growing up years at the neighbour’s.

7. Those of us that do extended family, it is time to reconsider it, ask yourself this question, is it worth it? no sacrifice is too much for your child. After all you can love your extended family from afar by providing cash, scholarship, helping them to secure accommodation, setting them up in business etc. Experience has also shown that such extended family people prefer one-off windfalls to having to reside with you. Most of us use the extended family members as cheap labour, that’s why we keep them anyway.

8. Do not turn your home into a stop over motel or a ‘bed and breakfast’, pay for accommodation for your friends coming to town, after visiting, they can go to their hotel to pass the night.

9. If your child is of primary or secondary school age, do not drop them too early in the morning in school, this will prevent them from being exposed to abuse by school security guards and male teachers that come early for that purpose. 

10. On school runs, do not let any uncle be the one to be picking your child from school especially a child of the opposite sex, it is the height of stupidity to do this and to give the uncle transport fare for one person. It means the uncle would ‘lap’ the child, that is like given tacit approval for sexual abuse, I have had to slap one uncle on a bus when he sat in a corner in the rear with a female child firmly in his lap, a faraway look in his eyes and some up and down grinding movement going, the slap was so hot that he landed straight back to reality, the faraway look replaced with that of guilt ( I could not have been more than eighteen then). In fact any time I come across such and the parent is in the vicinity, I quickly corner them for a little talk on the apparent potential danger and I have had to do this on more than three occasions.

11. Fathers please do not request that your male friends run any errand for you concerning your child like dropping stuff for your child in their school or given your female child rides out of town  etc even if it’s on their way, the result can be disastrous. A friend of mine started according to her ‘befriending’ their trusted family friend since her secondary school years till even after she got married. The parents were under the erroneous illusion that the friend, a childhood friend of the father’s  was the only one who could ‘talk sense’ into her.

12. Let your female child and male child too, know that under no circumstances must they sit in any man’s lap even if it’s your Pastor and that they should report any inappropriate touching as simple as the ‘pulling’of their ears for no reason. I stopped going to a relative’s house with my children when one of my children reported their son to me that he said he wanted to see the colour of their underpants 

12. Discourage long unchaperoned visits from friends that have children of a different gender to your child especially if you have all girls or all boys.

13. Pay serious and immediate attention if a child becomes too close to a particular adult or is distressed at the sight of any particular adult, encourage him/her to talk to you about it.

13. Adopt the NSPPC pants rule especially with underage children.

14. Most importantly be friends with your child, so that they will develop that feeling that you can be confided in and ‘talk the talk’ so that they will be already aware and be able to identify sexual abuse when they see it coming.

15. Spread the word, join my ‘one woman riot squad’ by doing your bit in your own tiny little part of the world. 

 

56 thoughts on “Beware of ‘Uncles’

  1. That’s dumb as shit males aren’t the only sexual predators and not all of them are as you make it seem I know this one guy whose wife molested his niece though no mentions of leaving your children alone with any female even though they’re just as capable of it too a little sexist I think but really doesn’t matter male or female you never can be too safe you really just have to be able to read people and know who you’re dealing with

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  2. Sincerely, it’s really an eye opener. I was also a victim of this abuse by one of the so called ‘uncles’; a grown up neighbour that was known as an uncle. May God help us to nurture our children well.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah
    This is what I commented
    Hello
    I agree with everything in this post.
    And I think it’s amazing that you’re bringing awareness to this.
    However, if it’s not too much to ask. Could you blur the face of the girl and driver in the pictures posted. Especially the girl. She is a child and anyone that knows her personally would recognize her. I think it’s important to protect her identity.
    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seriously organicbody love, I put on my microscope and looked at the image but could not recognise the girl in the image, that not withstanding, I have gone ahead to remove the image. Thanks for your contribution.

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  4. First, I encourage every parent to be vigilant and put appropriate safeguards in place to prevent or eliminate child abuse be it sexual or otherwise.

    However, this article contains more paranoia than thought. It’s an attempt by the writer to pass her opinion to readers as facts.

    To conclude and demonize the use of a word, which admittedly over time has evolved and used mostly to demonstrate respect to older people as something capable of exposing the users to sexual abuse is indicative of her level paranoia. The lack of logic in her opinion is further exposed when she narrowed the prevalent use of the term “uncle” to a particular tribe, does that mean abuse is less likely in other tribes or cultures that do not use such words to show respect? I wonder if she’s Yoruba and if so, she must have been thought to show respect with words such as uncles and aunties, but she forgot to tell us if that made her vulnerable to abuse as child growing up.

    She now went on and posted someone’s picture without their consent and tagged it “abuse waiting to or is already happening” what level of paranoia is that? What if he was her father?

    I have a 14 year old son, growing up, doctors and nurses have often referred to me as his brother or uncle. If my son were a girl and this writer had come across both of us at a clinic and saw a young girl sleeping on my laps, am 100% sure that in her mental state of mind, she would have concluded that I must be “that uncle” and she would probably pull my wife aside to warn her of a potential sexual predator! My point is this, only someone that is overly judgmental or a paranoid would see this picture and jump to that conclusion.

    Am I saying abuse, sexual or otherwise don’t exist in our society? Of course it does exist from time immemorial, is it prevalent or not in a country of 170M? I cannot say simply because I don’t have the data to support whatever my opinion is and because of that, I won’t try to impose it on other people by generalizing, which is what this writer attempted to do.

    She would soon write “Beware of “Aunties” because the last time I checked, abuse is not gender specific.

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    • I’m surprised at your comment for your info we live in a paranoid world where fathers abuse daughters brothers abuse sisters and vise versa and so called aunties and uncles abuse children I can therefore say with all certainty that parents all need a measure of paranoia and prayers to protect our kids from these wolves known as peadophiles ravaging our world today

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think this article draws attention to a very important issue that is a silent evil in many cultures, western or not. I would like to commend the author for taking the time to highlight this and hope it helps to save some one from being a victim. My only concern is the strong focus on ‘uncles’, as ‘aunties’ are just as likely to be perpetrators of abuse and we all know abuse occurs in different forms not just sexual. I note there was a brief reference to an Aunty but this could easily be missed. Parents should also not assume it is only man/girl or woman/boy abuse as there are so many cases to the contrary. I think this could have been stressed a bit more. Otherwise, well done, hopefully by raising awareness we can also reduce the likelihood of children being accused of lying when they speak up.

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  6. What an eye opener. We r so good at attempting to wish bad things away in this country instead of taking the bull by the horns and facing the situation @ hand. This is the reason y some pple r busy trying to analyse the writer’s state of mind and recommending psychiatric help instead of learning from the useful information that has been provided. Also sayin that such is not common with men in Africa must be a joke! It seems to me that child sexual abuse is on d rise, the days r terribly evil and every mother must be vigilant. There was even a case of a man abusing his 8 month old daughter! U can only vouch for urself cos you have absolutely no idea what the motives of the next person is. I’m definitely joining your one woman squad. I admire your boldness and courage to call parents aside and advise them. Pls keep up the good work.

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  7. Well done! You said it all….there are so many horrible stories to share, where can one really start from. If u r a mum and u haven’t heard any then there is somthing wrong. All she’s saying is be alert and be more careful with your kids there are somany unsuspected perverts out there!

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  8. I know of a father’s younger brother who tried to drug her niece. times r so so bad joor. Anyway I do not leave my kids unmonitored by several eyes

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  9. I get the point you’re making, and it’s a valid one. But to tar every man with the ‘sicko’ label Is not nice. Stay vigilant around the kids, and educate them to spot tell tale signs of abusive behaviour. Also, talk with them on an ongoing basis. But if kids have to reject every kind of affection from adult men then you’re setting them up for bigger problems as they grow up. The photo with which you illustrated the article, for instance, is way out of line. Your experience cannot be the standard for judging every kindly uncle. Please leave room for some balance.

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    • Onuwa, there is nothing in the write-up that says I have ‘experienced’ anything. It is better to be safe than sorry, and no ‘kindly’ uncle is being judged by my experience. We are just being encouraged to be vigilant and carry out our duty towards our children with the seriousness it deserves. Thank you for stopping by.

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  10. Pingback: Beware of ‘Uncles’ | Sublyme

  11. Wow this is an amazing information for our people,myself and other parents. For a very long time this is a topic that has been avoided and I’m glad it is being tackled. I am from South Africa and all that is mentioned above is happening on a daily basis. Children are abused by their step father and the mothers sweep it under the carpet in the name of saving the relationship,it really makes me sick when I remember how my friend was abused by her step-dad and reported the incident to her own mother who actually did nothing but instead accused her daughter of trying to destroy her marriage. The so-called uncles have destroyed the lives of these little girls. I am married to a Nigerian and I spend most holidays in Nigeria and I have noticed that some people use young girls to as their house-helps/nannies and it is very disturbing as the men of the homes do sometimes abuse these girls and threaten to send them back to their villages if they tell anyone. May the Lord deliver us from this evil happening under our noses. Thank you for bringing up such an important article….God bless you and let us remember to be wise…..

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  12. Thanks for the information. Nigerian still shy away from the truth. There is abuse going on daily and I’m going to give you one case study that happened recently in Ekpoma Edo State. Pls feel free to verify it as it is a common knowledge. A girl from a humble well known background in ekpoma, in year one in the State university there, recently got pregnant. As the pregnancy grew she refused to say who was responsible despite all efforts and appeals from her parents. On the day of delivery, she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. It would have been a thing of joy as kids are gifts from God. The mum insisted on knowing the kids father or hell will let loose. When the daughter saw her mum met business, she decided to say the truth. She told her parents that it was her uncle living with them. The son of her father’s brother. The shock made the woman scream and slumped. The mother died from the shock right there.. She was given a Catholic burial last month in Mary the Queen Catholic Church. So tell me why some of you will say that naijamum is paranoid? The worm eating the corn is inside the corn. Pls let us all be very vigilant and protect our kids. Pls feel free to verify all i have written. You can even Google it. It is out of respect for the dead that I actually didn’t give the names. I pray that her soul rest in peace. Make your kids your friends so that they can be free to tell you anything no matter how terrible.

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    • God bless you my sister. Some of the commenters on this post want to know about my past experience and have advised that I seek help because of the so-called ‘experience’ they have failed to realize that you can learn from diverse experiences not necessarily what you go through as a person. Thank you for making the effort to share this, it’s not everybody that can be bothered.

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  13. I must admit that this post terrified me! I’ve always been cautious too but your experiences make me shiver in my boots. Thank you for the heads up.

    It seems sexual abuse is more rampant now but I think the incidence could have been even more decades ago when parents were less vigilant. Now kids are more vocal and cases are often publicised by social media causing more reportage and seeming increase in incidence of rape cases.

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  14. It’s amazing that a Nigerian can say that there aren’t rape cases inspite of the fact that no day passes without one report or the other on rape. Even fathers turning their daughters to sex partners. Ur msg isn’t only for parent it’s also for grand parents who hv to assist with d care of their grannies. Thanks for creating d awareness.

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  15. Your thoughts are worthy and your intentions seem honourable but you are dealing with some fundamental issues here, that colour the overall picture for many. Vigilance is the bottom line in this matter. Neither you nor I chose this nation’s lingua franca. Neither you nor I enforce that it must be spoken by all especially children. Neither you nor I are the cause of the fact that many, if not all, think in indigenous languages but attempt to express themselves in English concepts. The “uncle” existed before English came. All manner of oppression and abuse of children by “adults” is what is in contention here. As more people grow (and remain) aware, it will be resisted. Thank you.

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  16. While I agree that parents have to be vigilant . I still think your post is a bit judgemental and is telling parents to be paranoid. Also that picture was very unnecessary. Very soon you would be telling us that their Daddy shouldn’t even carry our daughters not every male is a pedophile. Haba. Yes the world has bad people doing evil things does not mean good and love in families have stopped existing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Suzie, have I succeeded in infecting you a little with my paranoia? If so I am glad,it’s better to be safe than sorry, damage of such nature under discussion cannot be undone no matter how we might want it and how sorry we might be. I am sure some awareness has been created in you. Thanks for stopping by.

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  17. I share your annoyance with the average western Nigerian’s need for titles but….

    “Came across this uncle at a clinic, from the look of things, there is an abuse waiting round the corner tthat is, if it has not started already”

    Personally, I find this quoted caption with the picture rather unnecessary and overly judgemental. I think the writer of this article allowed herself to get on some sort of emotionally-high band-wagon. Perhaps she was a victim of abuse in her youth and so sees everything through a red-colored lens.

    If that’s the case, what happened to you was an unfortunate turn of events. But in truth, there is nothing wrong with a girl using a trusted adult’s leg as as a pillow. By your definition and blind hysteria, I should not even be allowed to carry my niece!

    I suggest you see a psychiatrist and work on smoothing out any latent scars the likely previous abuse in your life has caused you. Do not, however, dare to confuse other parents into thinking that there is something wrong with them for not being as paranoid.

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  18. Glad I stumbled on this . Our world is so perverted now watched a video of a man sexually abusing a little girl it broke my heart abusing and made my skin crawl. Been a mother to two young children I now know I can never be too careful.

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  19. Obviously, the author has probably lived abroad and is quite familiar with the sick tendencies of sexual predators there. But there is an overly excessive paranoia in this write-up though, in my opinion. Generally speaking, African men are not into sexually abusing children; there is more danger that older men would kidnap vulnerable kids for ritualistic purposes. For that reason alone, parents need to be very vigilant about the whereabouts of their kids.
    The other problem with the write-up is the obvious feminist slant: only “uncles” can be sexual predators. Of course, in the US and some parts of Europe, men have been demonized to the point of the ridiculous, and are considered guilty until proven guilty. Well, flash news: women can be sexual predators as well, and they can be willing partners in procuring kids for money. So, we should all be careful of uncles and aunties. Or better still, parents should be parents and not outsource the care of their kids to anyone outside the family.

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  20. Tnx a million times for this insightful piece. If only we parents would learn from half of the things we read, our children will be the better for it. Like you said the tell tale signs are always there, and most times very obvious. But most of us are just too busy or careless to see them. I guess this is another clarion call to parents. Well done. Keep up the good work.

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  21. Your article is on point. I was abused as a child by one such “uncle” and I know the silent underhanded way it starts. I raised my own children to call all those staff and artisans as MR and then his name. I also warn people when I come across it. Keep it up Naija Mum… God bless you.

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  22. This is a great piece. Please keep getting your message out there. I run an organisation called Who Will Hear My Cry (WWHMC) and we deal with issues concerning sexual abuse and rape. (Website is being updated http://www.wwhmc.org.uk)
    It would be great to link up I the future. The message needs to be heard. Sexual abuse is rife in our communities with the enablement of ignorance. Raising awareness is the number one key to tackling this disgusting and evil practice.
    Please note the underwear guide called ‘PANTS’ falls under the NSPCC of whom I am also a volunteer. A slight typo as it’s down as NSPPC.
    Great piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Thank You! I used to leave my toddler at home with the nanny, until I got quite uncomfortable with their bond.
    Now I’ve changed jobs to be able to get home much earlier; changed nannies to be on the safe side (just safer to trust my motherly instincts); Luckily, I have an aunt in the area, so I drop the new nanny at my aunt’s place on my way out. The school bus drops my son there too in the afternoon(4pm because of the afterschool club activities which he’s definitely not doing alone) . So my aunt and her family can watch my son and the nanny while I’m away & d nanny can also “watch” them too for any irregularities. I get back latest 6pm and we all go home happy, after which I take over (which includes toilet time, bathing etc).
    What’s the NSPPC Pants Rule, please?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. My contribution to my part of the world: http://insearchofperfecthair.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/lets-talk-about-sex-baby-lets-talk-about-you-and-me/
    http://inbetweenpeople.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/sexual-abuse-how-to-effectively-deal-with-it-and-contain-it/
    I watch my little brother carefully. In my family, we’ve had people live in our house for as long as 14 years. The whole send them to a hotel thing does not work. Still, those people have never gotten inappropriate with me. Instead it was the extraneous individuals.
    And if it happens too, please tell people what we should do? Thanks.

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  25. Pingback: Help, these children are showing me pepper ! | whatkindofchildisthis

  26. Naijamum – Great post! I can’t help but giggled when you admitted this is probably most common amongst us Yoruba than anywhere else – we confuse our children before they could talk! At school, they learn the proper definition of an uncle but at home we taught them the whole village/church/school is their uncles, easily fall prey as they thought all ‘uncles’ love them equally.
    On the point of turning the house to bedsit/bed & breakfast for family stopovers is something that always bothered me especially when it is very clear that there are not enough room especially when teenage mix genders were involved – our people will want to ‘manage’ as if we have learnt nothing reading from others example.

    More power to you, those who have ears will…

    Liked by 1 person

  27. These are some very important points you raise. We have the same problem of calling everyone Uncle in East Africa. Just curious as to how successful you’ve been at implementing these suggestions.

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