In an attempt to raise awareness about online safety for children, Kottayam District Police has issued a few instructions for parents and children on how to be more careful on social media. However, the advisory has come across as outright patriarchal and blatantly disregards the notion that a child can also have a right to privacy.
The Kottayam Police has asked girls that they never “take selfies with boys” and never upload their pictures on platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. They also advise that parents of girls should check whether the contacts of their female friends actually belong to girls and not boys. Overlooking the right to privacy, the post also asks parents that they should regularly snoop on their children’s chats on online messaging services as well as inspect bags and cupboards without the child’s knowledge. While other instructions like asking children to not use their phones as an alarm clock and instead buy an actual clock as well as not use their phones even in case of emergencies just come off as bizarre.
However, not all of the 16 instructions advise parents to blatantly disregard their child’s privacy. The post also mentions that parents should have open conversations with their kids about sex and sexuality, inform them how to “differentiate between good touch and bad touch”, encourages children to not befriend strangers on social networking platforms and create secret Facebook and Instagram accounts. It also tells parents to lock the doors at night and not engage in fights in front of children.
The instructions were shared on Kottayam District police’s Facebook page in the aftermath of 20 men being arrested for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl. Another case that is mentioned in the post is that of a 24-year-old man who used social media to lure and blackmail 30 young women and allegedly raped them. Both the cases made state-wide news in Kerala.
However, the post has received flak on social media:
All boys are not predators. The girls should be taught to choose wisely and act wisely.
— ഷാലു ജോസഫ് (@ShaluJoseph) December 10, 2018
Don’t let girls take selfies with boys, monitor contacts: Kerala police to parents. Most if it is fine, but some of the instructions are problematic and the police should take a relook at it https://t.co/nOIQRLZYgV
— Dhanya Rajendran (@dhanyarajendran) December 9, 2018
More than restrictions, what is important is education on how to use social media. Parents play an important factor in this education. They should be aware of what is good and what is not…
— Shanks (@easynut) December 9, 2018
I got a coool idea.
They could raise their boys not to turn out to be such perverted assholes and not help create a such sexually restricted and suppressed society?
— Aby Yesudasan (@boketto247) December 9, 2018