How to get your young adult to speak to you when there’s internet abuse and violation of privacy

The latest news about the video leak at the Chandigarh University Girls Hostel not only made headlines, but also shocked all parents about the safety of their child. Such incidents also worry young adults, creating insecurity, fear, anxiety and panic in them.

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With camera access just a fingertip away, data breaches, voyeurism and abuse, etc. became easier than ever. I know these are not common conversations in most Indian homes, but what can you do to strengthen them and how should your child deal with them?

These conversations must be conducted at home as the frequency of such incidents is increasing. In times like these, you as a parent could develop a roadmap together with your adult child to master such situations.

Transition from puberty to adulthood is usually challenging, stressful and uncomfortable for young adults. They encounter complex problems in the real world when they first enter college. Also, they often live independently, and at this stage most parents have minimal knowledge or control over what is going on with their children, or are privy to information as much as they want you to know.

But such incidents of voyeurism, threats and blackmail are extremely difficult for anyone to deal with, let alone a young adult. So how can you create an emotionally safe space for them to reach out to you? Here are some tips:

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Open Approach: It is vital that parents are support systems for their children. Have conversations with them to educate them about body security, cyber security, voyeurism, binge drinking, date drugs, gambling, etc. Let me use an example here. When we board a plane, the flight attendant always talks about safety parameters, not because we’re going to crash, but to prepare for the unlikely event. By raising the issue openly, you build a bond of understanding and let your child know that they can come to you when they have a crisis.

Questions: Have there been similar incidents at your college or hostel?

What do you think the effect on the target person would be?

In your peer group, do you think personal data is sent voluntarily or under pressure? What is your stance on this?

Do you think I could support you or help you at times like this?

Maintain safety and trust: In the beginning there is a big difference in family crisis situations when helping your adult child’s self-inflicted and illegal problems versus helping someone who is on the receiving end and victim. Take for example a young adult caught drunk driving versus someone being blackmailed with morphed images.

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Both are crisis situations and can leave anyone feeling vulnerable, insecure and scared. It would be helpful to prioritize their need – safety, emotional security, and support – to regain mental strength and stability. Second, nurture your relationship with them. It’s already a difficult situation, so avoid blaming or bullying anyone.

To say: I am there for you unconditionally.

You are not alone; we will tackle this together.

In the self-created scenario: To say – This situation frustrates me. But now I want to prioritize your needs and well-being. We’ll get through this together.

I’m here for you and we’ll take care of it. A recovery plan must be drawn up later so that this never happens again.

Take care of oneself – When your child makes poor decisions, goes against your values, or gets into trouble, you will find yourself questioning your parenting skills. Was it something I did? What did I do wrong in my upbringing? am i a bad parent Such doubts can wreak havoc in your mind and make it harder to get through the crisis. Take your sadness, anger, shock out on trusted friends and/or family members or professionals. A healthy and emotionally supportive parent is better able to help their adult child. Problematic situations require composure and strength. Remember, you are not responsible for every decision or mistake your child makes.

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Avoid unloading your anger – You probably find it frustrating that your influence over your child wanes as they move from their teens into their 20s. When young adults share their problems with their parents, they become irritable, Fury‘Shame and I told you yes statements. Of course you worry as a parent, but that usually leads to further resentment. When your adult children are recounting their escapades of irresponsible behavior, use the time to provoke their thoughts.

ASK : Have you and your friends ever talked about how to deal with it if it happens to one of you?

When you’re in the car with X after you’ve all had a lot to drink. What would you do if he/she loses control of the car or has an accident?

Finally, have these conversations as often as possible to be a part of their world, in a way that makes them feel safe and open to coming back to you if needed. Also, think about what you can do when your adult children make bad decisions and get into trouble, whether romantically, financially, emotionally, or with the law?

Shubhika Singh is a Senior Counseling Psychologist specializing in young adults and co-founder of based in Kolkata

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