Edward Said’s View on the Media

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“Despite the variety and the differences, and however much we proclaim the contrary, what the media produce is neither spontaneous nor completely “free:” “news” does not just happen, pictures and ideas do not merely spring from reality into our eyes and minds, truth is not directly available, we do not have unrestrained variety at our disposal.For like all modes of communication, television, radio, and newspapers observe certain rules and conventions to get things across intelligibly, and it is these, often more than the reality being conveyed, that shape the material delivered by the media. “

Edward Said

School – The place of Horrification

I have never felt happy about going to elementary school when I was a kid. Everything was just chaos there. We had students 5 years older than me in the classrooms and whenever they make troubles, everyone in class pay the price and get punished. It was impossible to pass a week without being beaten up by them or by any of our teachers. Wallah I have never forgot the face of my Arabic teacher when he screamed at my face like  crazy because I forgot my homework. I remember his steps as he came closer to me, held my hands and started beating me using his bamboo*  I cried and begged him for a mercy and forgiveness at that time but he didn’t even look at my eyes.  Anyway, I still hear stories similar to my story even in the present time.

Children are exposed to sex harassment in school from their teacher and other students of a higher grade. I remember when I was a kid, one of my classmate was receiving love letters from religion teacher! It was obvious to know what the teacher was going after. The teacher touched the student one time inappropriatly. My classmate told his parents and they came to school and asked to ban the teacher from teaching. The teacher end up teaching another classroom without facing any charges. We hear so many disturbing stories about children being beaten up or sexually harassed by their teacher or other students in school but we never take action because we always like to wait until we see the problem fall on our own children. Until that happen to any of our children, we shouldn’t be worried, should we?

Chaotic School:

My experience in elementary and intermediate school wasn’t pleasant at all. I struggled a lot in understanding kids at my age. Teachers weren’t encouraging the open discussion and critical thinking.  The environment was really chaotic, student screams and make noises during the lunch break or in any absent of the teachers. Noise was my biggest weakness. I would rather be killed and tortured thousands time than living in noisy and chaotic place.

Notes:

* Bamboo was  commonly used by teacher to beat  and hit students’ hands when forgot the homework

– Since schools are segregated I have no information about sex harassment in Girl school. I am trying to find some women who can talk about their experience when they were in the elementary or intermediate school.

Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

The most reasonable solution for any problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Many parents wait until something bad happen for their children in order to wake up and take action. I think that explain part of human nature. We don’t realize how dangerous the fire is until we get our hands burned. In this post, I will talk about very basic and important advises on how to protect you child from being sexually abused:
  • Teach your child  the Private Parts of his/her body:

BodySafety

Children from the beginning should learn about the private parts of their body and that nobody (including their relatives) should touch these private parts inappropriately. The picture above illustrates the private parts of the both boy and girl by comparing them to the bathing suites. You can teach your child that what your bath suites cover of your body is called the private part and nobody should touch it.

  • Keep an aye on your child:

Always pay attention to your child behavior. It is the only thing that the child can’t hide. For example, the fear of sleeping alone, crying with no reason or refusing to go to school. They are all sign of something wrong going on.

  • Never Trust anybody blindly:

A study in US has shown that 85 to 95% of sexual abused cases is known to and trusted by the victim. As I said, your child can be abused by anyone of your relatives, or by anyone of his teacher. So, you should be always cautious.

  • Talk, Talk, Talk

Many of our problems comes from not having a strong communication channel between the child and his parents. Always try to establish a communication channel with your child from the very beginning. Talk to your child as an adult, tell him your personal stories and listen to him carefully.

  • Visit your child’s school weekly

You should know the name of every teacher that teaches your child and the names of the friends he/she talked with in the classroom. School has never become a safe place for children ( I will talk why on my next post)

My dream!

One of my dream is to build a social organization that is advocate to provide counseling and special education for children in Saudi Arabia. I honestly believe that many of our children have been involved in many social and religious conflicts that we and past generation have created. I am also surprised to see that many people who seek change in Saudi society are ignoring children power in transforming the direction of the whole society.
my project is outline in three steps:
  1. Research and study children mentality and write about it in my blog
  2. design an online environment for children  (websites, blog, etc)
  3. implement the project on the ground ( provide workshops, open children center, etc)

Will see how far I can go in achieving that dream!

what I care about is

Child abuse is in everywhere in the world but what made me  angry and sad is that many saudi aren’t aware of it and it has been ignored by media and public organization in Saudi Arabia up to this moment. The statistic of how many children are abused in Saudi Arabia is just horrifying. A study by Dr Ali Al-Zahrani has shown that 22 percent of children in Saudi Arabiaare exposed to sexual abuse. Children can be sexually abused in elementary school by their teachers or even in their home by their relatives. It can happens in everywhere but you don’t hear the Saudi media talking about it. It is probably busy talking about upcoming visit of a prince or a discussion over the fight between liberal and conservative. Well, I don’t care about who the prince is meeting tomorrow or who is right or wrong between liberal and conservative. What I care  about is the the safety and the security of our children.

The picture below is an example of what newspapers cover in the front page as the most important news:

Picture 2

Child Sexual Abuse in KSA

Picture 1

one of my friend has noticed a sudden change in his little brother behavior for the past 2 months. He refuses to sleep alone in his bedroom. He cries with no reason and he feels insecure all the time. His father and mother weren’t able to understand his situation and the boy refuses to speak about the problem. My friend insist that his brother is fearing of telling something so he went to boy’s friends in elementary school.  Eventually, after along interrogation, one boy told him that he always sees his brother alone with sport teacher in his office.  My brother and his parents were shocked to know later that their child has been sexually abused by his sport teacher for 2 months.

But why the boy has never told his parent from the first time that his teacher was abusing him? How does this incident will have a negative impact on the child even after 10 years?  What should have been done by parent to prevent that from happening in the first place? These questions along with others are the ones that I want to address in my blog this week.

Would You Permit Me?

by Nizar Qabbani*

In a country where thinkers are assassinated, and writers are considered
infidels and books are burnt,
in societies that refuse the other, and
force silence on mouths and thoughts forbidden,
and to question is a sin,
I must beg your pardon, would you permit me?

Would you permit me to bring up my children as I want, and not to
dictate on me your whims and orders?

Would you permit me to teach my children that the religion is first to
God, and not for religious leaders or scholars or people?

Would you permit me to teach my little one that religion is about good
manners, good behaviour, good conduct, honesty and truthfulness,
before I teach her with which foot to enter the bathroom or with which hand she
should eat?

Would you permit me to teach my daughter that God is about love, and
she can dialogue with Him and ask Him anything she wants, far away from the
teachings of anyone?

Would you permit me not to mention the torture of the grave to my
children, who do not know about death yet?

Would you permit me to teach my daughter the tenets of the religion
and its culture and manners, before I force on her the ‘Hijab’ (the veil)?

Would you permit me to tell my young son that hurting people and
degrading them because of their nationality, colour or religion, is considered a
big sin by God?

Would you permit me to tell my daughter to revising her homework and
paying attention to her learning is considered by God as more useful and
important than learning by heart Ayahs from the Quran without knowing their
meaning?

Would you permit me to teach my son that following the footsteps of
the Honourable Prophet begins with his honesty, loyalty and truthfulness,
before his beard or how short his thobe (long shirt/dress) is?

Would you permit me to tell my daughter that her Christian friend is not
an infidel, and ask her not to cry fearing her friend will go to Hell?

Would you permit me to argue, that God did not authorize anyone on
earth after the Prophet to speak in his name nor did he vest any powers in
anyone to issue ‘deeds of forgiveness’ to people?

Would you permit me to say, that God has forbidden killing the human
spirit and who kills wrongly a human being is as if he killed all human kind,
and no Moslem has the right to frighten another Moslem?

Would you permit me to teach my children that God is greater, more
just, and more merciful than all the (religious) scholars on earth combined? And
that His standards are different from the standards of those trading the
religion, and that His accountability is kinder and more merciful?

Would you permit me?

* Nizar Qabbani is a Syrian poet whose poems have made a lot of controversies in Middle East