During Q1, we had several opportunities to provide consultations to minors, with the youngest survivor being a 13-year-old junior high school student.
To protect the privacy and safety of the children, we cannot discuss each case in detail, but there is one thing in common. The children who consulted with us were desperate to ask us not to tell their parents. The main reasons cited were "I don't want to worry them," "I don't want them to be disappointed in me," and most often, "I don't want to burden them.” It is not that they come from a family with a bad parent-child relationship, but rather that they feel they can talk easily with their parents and that they are loved by them, yet they have suffered such enormous damage that they do not want to tell them that they need help.
We think there is a big key here. Showing love to children is the foundation of a healthy parent-child relationship and smooth communication. At the same time, we must not forget to convey the message that "you are not a burden.” It is natural for parents to take care of their children, and for parents it is not a burden, but a joy to be able to do something for their children. Japanese culture places an extremely strong emphasis on “not burdening others,” causing children to worry about what kind of trouble they will cause before asking for help in such a difficult situation. This leaves the child isolated in darkness. Sadly, we have seen several cases where children cannot get proper protection and restoration because of this obstacle.
Many children become victims through people they meet on social media and the Internet, and are drawn into exploitative relationships. It is necessary to communicate with children on a daily basis, including the setting of boundaries such as rules for smartphone usage. These discussions should go beyond just rules, but asking good questions to learn more about the risks the child is exposed to, such as:
“What kind of friends do you have?”
"How's school life?"
“Is there someone you like?"
And express words that affirm their being such as;
"You're very important to me."
"Let me know if you need help."
"We care about you.”
By making a conscious effort to convey that it is not a burden but a joy as parents to do what is necessary for them, the parent-child relationship can be greatly developed and foster a good environment for the child to reach out for help.
But the love and trust does not end in a parent-child relationship. In our wider community, we all have a role to play in supporting each other. So instead of thinking “I must not burden others,” let’s recognize the joy and privilege to help each other as the Body of Christ.