Sunday, March 30, 2014

With summer holidays around the corner, a must read article

Camp safely

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Keep tabs on who your children are with. File Photo.
The Hindu Keep tabs on who your children are with. File Photo.

Holiday camps are fun exercises where kids learn a lot and make new friends. However, Hema Vijay warns they are also places for potential child sexual abuse and that parents must be cautious

It is that time of the year now, when parents make a beeline for enrolling their kids at camps or workshops to learn something new, or just to keep them away from television. Summer camps are no doubt fun and give our children new perspectives, friendships, skills and learning experiences. But parents should keep in mind that while child sexual abuse is perpetrated mostly by someone known to the child, plenty of child sexual abuse happens in holiday camps too. “Every summer, we note an increase in the number of cases of child sexual abuse, with a good many reported from camps,” shares Vidya Reddy, Tulir, Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse. “Remember that child sexual abusers seek situations / jobs that give them access to children, and camps give them this opportunity.”
Unfortunately, many parents fail to see the safety implications in these situations. “I would never send my child out alone at night. But I never suspected this,” admits S. Seshadri, a parent.
“Parents today imagine that working to earn for the child supersedes every other parental responsibility such as spending enough time with the children or keeping them safe,” rues V. Jayanthini, child psychiatrist and retired HOD, Child Guidance Clinic, Institute of Child Health and Hospital for Children. Vidya cautions, “Parents shouldn’t abdicate parental responsibility and park their kids at camps / places without ensuring safeguards.”
In the West, summer camps operate with training and accreditation from statutory bodies. The code of conduct and safety protocol of the camp is mandatorily made known to parents. Meanwhile, the U.S.’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention advocates six components for keeping children safe in camps: Screening for selecting employees / volunteers; Guidelines on interactions between individuals; Monitoring behaviour; Ensuring safe physical environments; Responses to inappropriate behaviour / breaches in policy / allegations or suspicions of child sexual abuse; and Training about child sexual abuse. We need to bring in such safeguards in India too.
Listen to the child
“I don’t want to go to the camp, I don’t like the people there,” wailed Nirupama. But her parents told Nirupama that ‘she should adjust and be outgoing’ and dropped her at the camp. As it turned out, Nirupama was being abused at the camp by her math instructor, who touched and fondled her under the pretext of staying close to check her work. Likewise, Rahul, a budding tennis player, was asked to come to the office room to be given special training and exercises. In the office room, Rahul was molested, with the coach feeling Rahul up on the pretext of training him for body-building. Meanwhile, 13-year-old Shwetha was ‘escorted’ by a ‘trusted’ family friend to her grandmother’s house in a neighbouring city for the summer vacation. Shwetha was sexually molested all through the journey. When she called up her parents, cried and spoke of a ‘stomach ache’, parents suspected nothing, and simply assuaged her that she would be with granny soon.
In all these real-life incidents, the kids could have been spared much of the abuse, if their parents had recognised the children’s hidden cry for help. Our society trains kids to obey and adjust to all elders. We don’t understand that many ‘known and trusted’ friends / relatives / caregivers have turned out to be child sexual abusers. Parents should be able to recognise subtle signs of sexual abuse, be it physical, emotional, verbal, behavioural, or social. “Many kids will not explicitly reveal that they are being abused. Parents should accept children’s statements on trust, rather than put their trust in the caregiver / organisation / friend / relative,” advises child psychiatrist B. Subha.
Know About The Camp
Before enrolling, parents should visit the place, meet the people who would be interacting with their child, and observe a few sessions
Ask Questions
Ask the organisers if they have a code of conduct for their staff for appropriate behaviour and boundaries of touch and proximity, when interacting with children. Is this protocol shared with the children? Whom can the children approach if the code of conduct is violated? Will there be more than one adult in the room, so that there can be a mutual check? How do they monitor adult-child interactions? How do they screen staff? What would their response be to a medical emergency or an allegation of abuse? How would they handle bullying?
Safety Over Convenience
Do not drop your child at the camp much ahead of the scheduled time. Don’t let a child be the last one to be dropped off from the bus or the first one to be picked up. Such situations create situations of your child being alone with a potential abuser.

Monday, February 17, 2014

"5 ways to Deter a pedophile "

We often refer to the saying "never get between a mother bear and her cubs" - and that is the reaction we want potential predators & pedophiles to take away with them if they should ever cross our path.

As much as 90% of child sexual abuse occurs in a situation where the child & their family know the abuser and the perpetrator has often established themselves in a position of trust. Many are patient, choose their victims/families carefully and spend time grooming both the adults and children. Why all this effort? They don't want to get caught. They want an abusive relationship with a child that they can keep secret and repeat. Some convicted child predators have been open enough to be interviewed by abuse prevention experts and we can learn from their tactics and what situations they avoided to maintain their cover.

While there are no guarantees that we can absolutely deter a potential predator, being aware of the reality, vigilant of the people involved with our children, and maintaining open communication with our children are core components to protection. 

1. Show them that you're a loving, attentive parent

Being interested and invested in your your child's life - activities, knowing their friends & parents, coaches, teachers, asking questions involving plans, arriving a few minutes early for pickups from practices etc - all this stuff sends a signal that you care about your child - that you're watching.

Predators generally look for children whose parents are less involved, indicating the child may be looking for attention/love that they aren't getting at home. Such behavior could also indicate that the parent is busy, distracted and easily trusting of others involved with their children. A parent that doesn't even think about the threat of abuse is just as much of a target as the child involved. 

2. A parent that trusts himself over others and isn't afraid to say what needs to be said

No one, I mean no one, will care about the well being of our children more than us. Their safety is our responsibility - end of story. Don't be embarrassed or afraid of offending people in order to do this job well.

That means doing stuff like this:
1. Asking for verification that day care providers are, indeed, licensed.
2. Ask day cares, schools, youth organizations etc about about abuse prevention policies, any training and procedures established if abuse is suspected, or if they suspect a child may be being abused at home.
3. Being the person who calls references for babysitters/nannies/tutors etc and asks questions like - did you ever feel uncomfortable with this person caring for your child? Accepting family/friend references is not good enough. And if you call a reference and they never get back to you - keep calling and if you can never get them - consider that to be not a good sign.

4. If something in your gut tells you no, to not put your child in a situation - whether it's a sleepover, a retreat, or a babysitter that was recommended by a friend, listen to your gut. Your instinct is based on some truth - even if you can't put your finger on it, and furthermore- the purpose of your instinct is to avoid danger. When it comes to keeping your child safe - it doesn't matter what other people think - it matters what you think.

5. If you have a concern about someone's behavior - express it. Not with malice or accusation, but to seek clarification or, if necessary, to explain to someone that you do not feel comfortable with their behavior around your child - or other children. It may be an adult roughhousing or tickling, talking about stuff that you don't think is appropriate - whatever it is - if someone you know is sending you a signal that what they're doing is making you or your child uncomfortable - speak up.

Grooming often starts with such behavior in the presence of other adults in order to normalize the behavior with the child as being acceptable - if mom or dad isn't objecting, then this must be OK. Furthermore, we enable abuse when we trust that other people have our children's best interests in mind - especially when we're paying them.  This is just not the case. 

Even worse, is that there are often situations where someone does suspect something is up but is afraid of offending that person or making a mistake. But we need to ask ourselves - what do we care about more: our children's safety or someone's feelings when our concern is legitimate? And what is worse - expressing a concern and finding out that there's no problem or not speaking up only to later discover we were right and could have saved a child a lot of suffering? Our kids are trusting us to make sure they're safe - in fact, there isn't much they can really do to keep themselves safe - it's completely up to us - so we need to make sure that we're doing our job. 

3. Be the parent that respects  & Listens to their child

Just as we have instincts, our children have them too. They also have a right to have their concerns heard and regarded.

Parents that listen to their children and respect their opinions & feelings will show potential predators that you don't see your child as a second-rate citizen.

Common lines from parents not exercising awareness for the possibility of abuse and not attuned to possible cues from their children that something may be wrong can go like this:

Child: "I don't want to go to Uncle Danny's house - he's weird.
"Parent: "Don't say that about your Uncle - he's your family - you have to be nice to him." 
A better reaction: "What is it about Uncle Danny that you think is weird?" 
Maybe Uncle Danny has a twitch, or maybe he's trying to show your child pornography on his computer... it's up to us to find the answer, not dismiss our children as being incapable of knowing something we don't or that their feelings don't matter. 

Child: "I don't want to go on the team trip with Coach Smith."
Parent: "I paid good money - you're going."
A better reaction: "I want to make sure you're safe and enjoy this trip - is there something that you're worried about?" 

Who knows - the child could be bullied by other teammates, or they might just not want to miss a birthday party. The important part is that we listen and are open to hearing what our children have to say. 

When we take an attitude of "What I say goes" our children can take this to mean - "why should I even bother to tell them, they don't care about what I feel."

Predators analyze the family dynamic and look for signs that the parent(s) may easily dismiss a child's feelings or opinions.

Survivors have talked about how they even told their parents that someone abused them and the parent refused to believe them and even made them apologize to their abuser. 

4. Be The Person That's Not Afraid To Say it... "i'm Aware & educated about child sexual abuse." 

Imagine there is a possible predator in your community, you're in their presence and just happen to mention something you've learned about child sexual abuse and how you've spent time to educate yourself to protect your family?

Do you think this person would want to target you and your family or do you think they're probably thinking - "Yikes, this person is possibly educating other parents."

It may seem like an unlikely situation, but the more comfortable we feel talking about this issue with friends & family - the less ignorance silences this issue and the harder it is for predators to operate.

One of my board members told me how she uses her Mama Bear Effect mug at work and a coworker asked her what it was about - she told him about our mission, and now she says, he looks at her a bit different when she walks by. Not saying at all that he's a predator - but every effort we make to use our voice to end the taboo surrounding this issue - we make it easier for others to think, learn, and talk about it. 

5. Confident, knowledgeable kids are not "sexy"

Timid children are not "sexy" either - no child is, but to pedophiles, it's not necessarily about looks, but the ability to manipulate and control.

While we can never guarantee a child will have the ability to effectively protect themselves from a skilled pedophile, we can do our best to educate them and raise them to have faith in their self worth and right to be respected. And let people know that we have taught our children. 

Kids that are properly educated about their bodies & safety rights - the correct name for genitalia, the right to say no, that privates are kept private etc etc (you can learn more about how to empower children here) are harder for predators to trick and keep quiet.

Predators often groom children by trying to make privates "fun" by playing games or using cutesy nicknames - when they know a child has body safety knowledge, it's not as easy as a child who is completely ignorant about their body & rights.

Many predators talk about how they will target the shy or loner child, who may be easier to control or intimidate. Confident kids are more likely to tell, more likely to say no, and more likely to understand that abuse is wrong and stand up for themselves.

 Like we said before, there are no guarantees,  confident, knowledgeable children are still at risk for abuse, but generally speaking, the more shy the child - the more we need to focus on making sure they know their rights, that we will believe & protect them, and the more we need to be vigilant and protective of them.

And even the most loving, attentive parents cannot guarantee their child's safety - but that shouldn't stop us from trying our hardest and doing as much as we can to thwart potential predators, be cognizant of warning signs, and keep positive, open communication with our children regarding this issue.

1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys to be estimated to suffer from sexual abuse before their 18th birthday is just too great a risk to ignore. 

Again, as much as 90% of abuse is perpetrated by people known to the child & family. As many as 30-40% of abusers are immediate or extended family members, and as many as 40% of abusers are other children. Only 10% or less are estimated to be strangers. 

Too often we see these scraggly creepy looking sex offenders on TV being arrested for abusing children. The way we see it - those are the ones blatant and stupid enough to get caught. Only 10% of abuse is estimated to ever be reported. The vast majority of abusers are intelligent, "nice", and often charitable, well-respected citizens. They're very smart about how they operate - we have to be smarter.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Screening of The Invisbles - Mumbai

 Most of us think back of our early years and smile. We remember paper boats, birthday gifts, and return gifts. Sharing lunch boxes in school, grazing our knees while playing a sport.
We remember fond memories.
But for some others, the mere mention of childhood is a wound. The scabs of a wound that never healed. An injury that was as emotional as physical. A pain they still fear to speak openly about.
People who become invisible.
The Invisibles is a film about these men and women. It is also a film for those who believe
grown-ups simply move on, no matter how grave the injury, how deep the wound.
The Invisibles aims to talk to adult survivors of child sexual abuse themselves. To bring forth their perspective, which has for too long been invisible, inaudible. And with translations in multiple languages, the film hopes to take this perspective to as many people as possible. To shed light on an exceedingly sensitive subject, that has, unfortunately, come to be only a taboo today.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Again, arbitrariness in selection of members in NCPCR

Do we really care for the well being of our children? This post is not some profound quote or moving picture which you just can click and move on. But if you really care, pls spend a few minutes reading it and comment or share or just like. This assumes greater significance with the new members to the NCPCR being selected, flouting all guidelines HC orders and rules
Whither the children and Welcome to the parking lot for wannabe politicians, favours to be returned, stamp pads etc etc. and

Please see the link: for details of the candidates selected including Dr. Yogesh Dube whose appointment was quashed by Delhi High Court. He has obtained stay from the apex court which is scheduled to be held on 24.2.2014.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pickles Lintas - Tulir 's radio awareness campaign

Meaningful prevention of CSA demands the inclusion of perpetrators as we work to re imagine the response and rehabilitation within the complex dynamics of CSA - Stories of Strength - Peace over Violence and 1in6.
Tulir would like to thank Pickles Lintas for recognizing this important aspect and creating these radio spots. Pls also refer

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Tamil Nadu - CSA prevention message on the back of Std 3- 5 notebooks

The Dept of School Education, Govt. of Tamil Nadu is to be lauded for their proactive measures to address Child Sexual Abuse - both in terms of prevention and redress.
GO 121 about dealing with school teachers   who are perpetrators
The Training of Teachers Trainers  on orienting  their colleagues about understanding the dynamics of CSA and th reporting systems now being put in place
The inclusion of the Chapter on understanding CSA to prevent  and respond appropriately, in the Teacher Handbooks
And now Personal Safety messages on the backs of  primary school Text books and Notebooks to educate children on protective behaviour - a reach of over 20 lakh kids

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Google's initiative against CSA

 Google is now displaying house ads against Child Sexual Abuse on the Internet for India (see attached screenshot). If one clicks on the house ad that shows up on our search results page in response to one of keywords relating to child sexual abuse, it leads to this landing page with Tulir listed. 

The child sexual abuse landing page for India is now live:

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Monday, November 18, 2013

Personal Safety poster on the last page of Hindu Young World

Pls download, share, use as a teachable tool
Our latest poster/flier which The Hindu very kindly published in the Young World supplement today

Friday, November 15, 2013

Surviving In Numbers

"The Tumblr Surviving In Numbers enables victims to tell the stories of their sexual assaults through numbers."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tulir audiobooks now downloadable

Tulir is pleased to announce that the three language versions of it's audiobook on Personal Safety for children is now down loadable of its website
Tickles and Hugs - Learning the touching rules ( English )
Goodgoodi karna, gale lagana;Sparsh ke niyam seekhiye ( Hindi )
Kattipidi Kichu Kichu Mootu - Thoduthal Vidhiyai Therinjukalama? ( Tamil )

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Crayon for Tulir on the rooftop of Africa

As part of their fund raising campaign (and after a grueling climb - in more ways than one a metaphor for addressing child sexual abuse)
Srikant Sastri and Suresh Sahankar founders of Crayon Data
- -
proudly display the banner of support at Uhuru peak, Mount Kilimanjaro.
Thanks very much to everyone who assisted with the effort

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What is the problem with teaching children the correct names for genitalia?

Let’s admit it, there is a national squeamishness about using the correct names for sexual parts of the body. At the doctors, many people would rather point to their genitals and say ‘I’ve got a problem down there’ than use the correct medical names. I wonder how common it is for adults to have never used the correct names for genitalia with their sexual partner? So I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked to discover recently, that the version of Anne Frank’s diary that I read as a teenager was actually censored to take out the bits where Anne writes about her experience of body changes and her genitals.  Frankness about her body came naturally to Anne, and it comes naturally to small children until they are taught otherwise.
The need for a more honest and open culture about sex and relationships is clearly explained in the new government ‘Framework for Sexual Health Improvement in England’, but sadly this ambition is not mirrored in the latest version of the National Curriculum science. The proposed curriculum for lower primary school science requires that children learn to name the main parts of the body, and gives a suggested list of body parts which does not include genitalia. And yet the genitalia are possibly the only parts of the body that children cannot yet name by this age.
The British are not short of words to describe their ‘crown jewels’. Ironically there is an abundance of slang words for penis, testicles, vagina, vulva and breasts.
When I was teaching sex and relationships education for Brook in Birmingham I discovered what a vast selection of words for sexual body parts young teens have at their disposal. A favourite activity of mine was to ask pupils to work silently, walking round the classroom from table to table and writing down slang words that they have heard for ‘penis’, ‘vagina’ etc. One of the aims of the activity was to enable pupils to move beyond their embarrassment and to pre-empt the possibility of ribaldry spoiling the lesson.  Without exception I found pupils handled this activity well and it led to more mature and giggle-free discussion.  Pupils found it interesting to notice that many of the slang words for penis were weapons or in some way aggressive or powerful e.g. ‘sword’ and ‘snake’, whereas the slang words for vagina and vulva were often derogatory or at best passive e.g. ‘gash’.
Further study of the British (and international) slang vocabulary for sexual organs might be instructive. For example is a high volume of slang correlated with higher levels of embarrassment about genitalia… and less sex education?
I am not against slang words, and families shouldn’t feel they have to stop using words like ‘willy’ and ‘front-bottom’ at home. The problem is that failure to teach children to name the genitalia gives out a powerful message to children: a sense of shame about their bodies. And shame breeds silence and sometimes pain, as this parent explains in a comment on a Mumsnet discussion forum in March 2013.
“So we’re OK to teach children that they have knees, ears and toes but forbidden to teach them penis, testicles and labia? It’s just some other bits of their body isn’t it? And quite important bits they learn the proper names for in case of (god forbid) them ever having to explain that those bits hurt or have been touched inappropriately etc.”
Ofsted have made it very clear that the failure of schools to teach children correct names for sexual body parts is a safeguarding issue. The words for genitalia are building blocks for understanding the difference between boys and girls, learning about normal bodily functions and hygiene, puberty, and later, about sexual health. It is also vital for any learning about physical boundaries and privacy, about what kind of physical contact is acceptable and unacceptable. When schools teach this well it is done in a matter of fact and simple way, for example an outline drawing of the human body is labeled and a set list of vocabulary (shared with parents) is taught and ticked off. This is revisited in future years so that the list can be added and pupils’ questions answered. NSPCC have recently launched their very useful and practical ‘Underwear rule’ campaign, which explains how parents, carers and schools can all play their part in educating children about their bodies and boundaries.
In contrast, pornography doesn’t come with educational sub-titles, bits to label and a vocabulary list that can be shared with parents. If we fail to overcome our squeamishness, children may well first learn about penis and vagina by being confronted by easily accessed and highly sexualized images. The contrast with a line drawing of the human body is surely obvious.
It is our responsibility as adults to safeguard children, and I believe we will look back with deep regret if we lose this opportunity in 2013 for a new National Curriculum that can guarantee that all children learn correct names for genitalia in primary science.
Objections to the National Curriculum proposals are made clear in a letter published in The Daily Telegraph (19 July 2013) entitled ‘Naming of parts’.  The letter warns that the current proposals “will perpetuate shame, and brings the risk of children not having the language to understand their bodies or to recognise and report sexual abuse”. Signatories to the letter include Hilary Eldridge, Chief Executive of child protection experts the Lucy Faithful Foundation and Reg Bailey, Chief Executive of the Mother’s Union who is also the Government appointed Independent Reviewer of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood. 
Public consultation on the final draft of the National Curriculum closes at 5pm on 8 August 2013. The Sex Education Forum has published their response.
Information about how to send your response is available from the Department for Education.  
Lucy Emmerson, 6 August 2013

Speak to keep your child safe

Speak to keep your child safe

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PARENTING Communicate with your child as often as possible. An interactive approach not only helps create awareness, but also removes inhibitions about discussing sensitive subjects such as Child Sexual Abuse, says HEMA VIJAY

Child sexual abuse (CSA) is a chilling and widespread reality in our society with several incidents being reported by the media. All of us wish to keep our kids safe from abusers. But intentions alone hardly suffice. Besides eliminating/reducing one-on-one situations between a child and its potential abusers, a crucial way of safeguarding children from CSA is by communicating with them. No child can afford to miss out on this communication, because uninformed kids are easy and favoured targets for child sexual abusers.
Start early
Communication could begin early even when children are just two or three years old, when we teach them to identify the parts of the body. “Help kids understand that some parts of the body are private and that nobody has a right to touch them there, and that it is not right for them to touch anybody’s private parts either,” says Vidya Reddy, founder, Tulir - Centre for Prevention and Healing of child sexual abuse. And don’t label private parts as ‘shame shame’, ‘flower’, ‘snake’, etc.
Use teaching opportunities
For instance, when a child wonders about a breast-feeding mother and asks, “What is Rekha aunty doing under the dupatta?” give a simple answer, “Aunty is giving milk to her baby, and nobody can look at or touch a person’s private parts,” recommends Dr. D. Jeyameena, child psychiatrist and founder of ‘Empowered Kids’. Also, teach your child the ‘touch rules’ outlined on websites such as Tulir (
Semantics are important here; you can’t tell a child ‘Don’t allow someone to touch your private parts’. The child can’t ensure that he is obeyed. “The ‘allow’ word puts the responsibility of the abuse on the child, and the child may end up thinking ‘Amma told me not to allow it, but he did it to me. Amma will be angry with me for allowing it. So I can’t tell her and take help from her,” cautions Vidya. What parents should say is, “It is not right for someone to touch your private parts.”
Identifying safe adults
“Try the ‘If’ questions... Ask your child: ‘If you get lost in a mall or a wedding, who would you call or seek help from? If someone says, ‘I’ll take you to your mother,’ would you go with him? If someone wanted to touch your private body parts, what would you do?’ This helps the child concretise issues and identify safe adults she can approach in moments of crisis,” suggests Vidya.
Understanding emotions
Kids today are more comfortable with emoticons and generic terms such as ‘yucky’ or ‘great’ rather than ‘happy’, ‘sad’, ‘confused’, ‘uncomfortable about touch’, etc. Parents have to help children identify and label feelings. Points out Vidya, “For instance, there might be an uncle who is playful and gives nice gifts, but might be abusing the child. The child may not be able to pinpoint the abuse and feels confused, not knowing what to say to the parent.”
Secret or not?
Parents should teach kids to distinguish between unsafe ‘speak secrets’ and safe ‘keep secrets’. For instance, if someone tells the child that ‘they could do something that shouldn’t be told to anyone’, that is an unsafe ‘speak secret’. Make it clear to kids that such secrets are not allowed. On the other hand, a surprise gift that the child plans to give its parent/grandparent is a safe ‘keep’ secret and is acceptable.
It is okay to say ‘No’
Parents should teach kids assertiveness skills — that it is okay for kids to say ‘No’ to anyone, even close relatives. Parents should also learn to discuss and engage with children. Then, it gets easier to make them understand why they should obey commands such as ‘tidy up the table’, and why they could refuse to touch or be touched by someone. This implies a lot of re-learning for Indian parents, who have been brought up to ‘obey and not talk back’ and are expected to bring up their kids the same way. Says Vidya: “When a visiting relative or friend showers your child with hugs/kisses and your child finds it uncomfortable, take the initiative and dare to say aloud, ‘My son doesn’t like such physical contact. Don’t do that.’ This gives the child confidence that he can report a physical abuse to you and that you would be on his side.”
Engage with kids
A potentially costly mistake that many parents make is in failing to engage with, listen and talk to their kids, even though they might love them. Without such an interactive relationship, kids wouldn’t feel confident about approaching their parents to report abuse or seek help.
Finally, remember that safety from CSA calls for ongoing education, just like any other education in life.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Way to go Dept of Education, Govt.of Tamil Nadu

A society’s integrity and worth is not based on whether cases of sexual violence against children happen. Instead it is based on the acceptance of the possibilities of occurrence and proactive steps taken to both safeguard and respond in a timely and appropriate way to ensure that its children may benefit from its caring and foresight to truly have the right to be safe all the time, everywhere.

Way to go Dept of Education, Govt of Tamil Nadu! Now only if the Social Welfare and Social Defense Directorate, and all the structures they manage, can follow suit 

The handbook will cover different aspects of child rights and also outline a format and timeline to report instances of child abuse

When a student in M. Premavathi’s class spoke about an ‘uncomfortable encounter’ he had with a man in his village, the middle school teacher did not know how to react.
On Tuesday, Premavathi was among a group of teachers, school heads and other education officials that attended a zonal-level awareness workshop on child sexual abuse.
Conducted by the State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and NGO Tulir, the two-day session culminated in a handbook on child rights prepared by SCERT with the support of Unicef and some NGOs.
S. Kannappan, director, SCERT, said the handbook would cover different aspects of child rights and also outline a format and timeline to report instances of child abuse. The handbook, he said, was in its final stages.
“Through the handbook and training programmes, the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, will be taken to schools.
The handbook will be a field-tested one. It will have common questions teachers have, and how they can be handled,” said Aruna Rathnam, education specialist, Unicef.
The handbook would also be published in Tamil, she said.
Vidya Reddy and Nancy Thomas of Tulir said the session addressed common myths and misconceptions.
The participants would serve as master trainers who would in turn conduct awareness programmes in the districts, they said.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Tulir Annual Program Series to Address Sexual Violence against Children - Connecting the Dots

A society’s integrity and worth is not based on whether cases of   sexual  violence against children happen. Instead it is based on the acceptance of the possibilities of  occurrence and proactive steps taken to  both safeguard and respond in a timely and appropriate way to ensure that its children may benefit from its caring and foresight to truly have the right to be safe all the time, everywhere.

Tulir - Center for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse is organizing Connecting the Dots –  The Annual Program Series to Address Sexual Violence against Children between  August 26 – 31, 2013 at Chennai,  which will be in English. Since limited seats are available, participants will be selected based on their completed  application forms (Please find pasted below the Schedule with details and you may write to us for the Application form) which  will be accepted up to August 25. Participants will be informed of their acceptance  within a day of Tulir  receiving the application. Venue particulars   and registration timing will be given   on confirmation of acceptance of participation. 

Participants will have to make their own travel and accommodation arrangements .Refreshments and relevant learning material  will be provided during the workshop. Registration will be Rs 800/- per day.

Dr. Lois J. Engelbrecht, will lead the workshops . Since founding the nonprofit Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse in 1993, she has helped create systems of prevention and response in the Philippines, Malaysia, China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. Read more about Dr Engelbrecht at Us/42022.htm

Please contact or call 26192026 (10 am - 6 pm, Monday – Friday) for further details. We will be glad to clarify any other related queries and  encourage you to share this information with others who you think may be interested








10AM – 5PM
AUG 27,
10AM – 5PM
AUG 28,
10AM – 5PM
AUG 28,
10AM – 5PM
AUG 29- 31,

10AM – 5PM

*Registering for Understanding the Dynamics of Child Sxual Abuse is mandatory to attend all other workshops except Evolving a Chid Protection Policy


The orientation  to  the Dynamics of Child Sexual Abuse  and their convergence to form a composite picture,  would lay the foundation on which participants could develop a knowledge base to further work on the subject of child protection either in terms of policy planning, program development or skill enhancement.  The outcome would be an increased awareness which would help with the  appreciation,  that  prevention or responding to child sexual abuse does  not only involve  the child, individual adults but  also   the entire community.
With various new aspects of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) 2012  which has been notified for implementation  from Nov. 14, 2012, including  sectors apart from the criminal justice system a  presentation on the highlights of the Act   will wrap up the orientation


Child sexual abuse is a multifaceted problem that requires a holistic response. Unfortunately, most of the focus tends to be after the abuse, on the female victim and some focus on the young sex offender. Prevention tends to focus on protection from victimization, with much less on preventing the development of sex offenders. This session will look at the Indian boy and the socio-cultural factors that work against him. What pressure does patriarchy place on boys? How could boys respond to the fact that so much focus and effort is placed on helping girls? The purpose of the session is to pose questions for critical inquiry in order to increase our understanding of the perceived environment of boys so that we can better support their positive development. The best way to prevent child sexual abuse is to create a world where children do not develop into adult offenders.


With the objective of empowering  primary school going age  children to safeguard themselves against CSA, the workshop on CSA prevention through Personal Safety Education  is to provide  participants with an understanding of  age-appropriate  information and   the accompanying   non-threatening methods to convey it while utilizing   a variety of resources developed specifically for this purpose  . 


A child protection policy (CPP) articulates an organization’s  zero tolerance approach to child abuse. An important step towards achieving this objective  would be for every institution which works with children to develop and adhere to a child protection policy which would have clear cut guidelines and protocols  to  provide for a safe and conducive environment for both children and the adults  with whom they interact. On  the one hand   it helps protect the staff of an organization from allegations of abuse, giving them the confidence to know there is a clear cut system of redress in case an allegation is levelled; On the other, a  CPP will  also help organizations be proactive in safeguarding children. . Abusers particularly take advantage of those organizations  they perceive as  unsafe -  lack of  protocols and supervision, careless in managing risks etc.. 
With various new aspects of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses (POCSO) 2012 which has been notified for implementation  from Nov. 14, 2012, including  sectors apart from the criminal justice system a  presentation on the highlights of the Act   will wrap up the orientation


Against the context of the ecological model, socio-cultural  realities  and from a mental heath and therapeutic   perspective, the presentation  on An introduction to   psycho social interventions would give participants  an overview of the concerns  and variables involved,  to address  effects of sexual abuse on the well being of a  child who has been sexually abused  and their family. Discussion would be around case study reviews and  examples of activities related to case presentations

The  workshop on Using the Traumagenic Dynamic Framework to assess  pre- and adolescent girls who have been  sexually abused  would build on  the understanding acquired, to  further the process of a Healing Plan.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Monsters, Predators and child sex abusers.

Monsters, Predators and child sex abusers.
The lurid headlines of last week, has given us the impetus to use them as a springboard to possible discussion about the use of
language regarding abusers.
We cringe when we see or hear the word "Monster" or
"Predator" or other similar terms used to describe people who have sexually abused children. We fear that the media's, legislators',and others' use of these terms help to keep the general public pointed in the wrong direction (e.g. - toward strangers or people who are not more socially mainstream) and not toward where the greatest and most common threat of sexual abuse to children exists -- toward people within the nuclear and extended family and within the family's social circle. Also that violent sexual crime is what happens overshadowing the fact that most often neither is it violent or rare. On the other hand it is the repetitive, pre planned sexual acts across a spectrum, on a child and within the context of grooming. A key to ensuring silence and non disclosure.
We also worry that when parents use these terms in discussions with or in front of their kids to describe abusers, or when kids hear them used on the news, or on TV shows, it may contribute toward their not disclosing abuse or attempted abuse by a relative or friend of the family, or may counteract other positive sexual abuse education they have received that encourages disclosure.
It seems like these terms are emotionally satisfying for adults who
are upset and angry (understandably), and for the media and
legislators who seek publicity and headlines, but are not helpful
toward protecting kids from sexual abuse.
Tulir's perspective is that the more we can calm the language down, the more we can frame it as a mental health and public health issue, the greater success we can have in pointing people in the most protective direction
(with inputs from Wendy Murphy)

Monday, April 29, 2013

For anyone who cares about child protection

A great video to help start the conversation with kids on personal safety! Don't put it off; there is no option

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Incest does not recognise any demographic or topography

 Rather every country has an incest problem. India does not have a definition of incest but still the Crime Review of India published by the National Crime Records Bureau has three pages devoted to the number of reported incest cases! As you can imagine, the numbers are very low since the interpretation of incest is understood differently by the individuals collating the data

America Has an Incest Problem

By Mia Fontaine Share People are rightly horrified by abuse scandals at Penn State and in the Catholic church. But what about children who are molested by their own family members?
David McNew/Reuters
Last year offered plenty of moments to have a sustained national conversation about child sexual abuse: the Jerry Sandusky verdict, the BBC's Jimmy Savile, Horace Mann's faculty members, and a slew of slightly less publicized incidents. President Obama missed the opportunity to put this issue on his second-term agenda in his inaugural speech.
Child sexual abuse impacts more Americans annually than cancer, AIDS, gun violence, LGBT inequality, and the mortgage crisis combined—subjects that Obama did cover.
Had he mentioned this issue, he would have been the first president to acknowledge the abuse that occurs in the institution that predates all others: the family. Incest was the first form of institutional abuse, and it remains by far the most widespread.
Here are some statistics that should be familiar to us all, but aren't, either because they're too mind-boggling to be absorbed easily, or because they're not publicized enough. One in three-to-four girls, and one in five-to-seven boys are sexually abused before they turn 18, an overwhelming incidence of which happens within the family. These statistics are well known among industry professionals, who are often quick to add, "and this is a notoriously underreported crime."
Incest is a subject that makes people recoil. The word alone causes many to squirm, and it's telling that of all of the individual and groups of perpetrators who've made national headlines to date, virtually none have been related to their victims. They've been trusted or fatherly figures (some in a more literal sense than others) from institutions close to home, but not actual fathers, step-fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, or cousins (or mothers and female relatives, for that matter). While all abuse is traumatizing, people outside of a child's home and family—the Sanduskys, the teachers and the priests—account for far fewer cases of child sexual abuse.
To answer the questions always following such scandals—why did the victims remain silent for so long, how and why were the offending adults protected, why weren't the police involved, how could a whole community be in such denial?—one need only realize that these institutions are mirroring the long-established patterns and responses to sexual abuse within the family. Which are: Deal with it internally instead of seeking legal justice and protection; keep kids quiet while adults remain protected and free to abuse again.
Intentionally or not, children are protecting adults, many for their entire lives. Millions of Americans, of both sexes, choke down food at family dinners, year after year, while seated at the same table as the people who violated them. Mothers and other family members are often complicit, grown-ups playing pretend because they're more invested in the preservation of the family (and, often, the family's finances) than the psychological, emotional, and physical well-being of the abused.
So why is incest still relegated to the hushed, shadowy outskirts of public and personal discussion, particularly given how few subjects today remain too controversial or taboo to discuss? Perhaps it's because however devastating sexual molestation by a trusted figure is, it's still more palatable than the thought of being raped by one's own flesh and blood. Or is it?
Consider how the clergy abuse shook Catholics to their core, causing internal division and international disenchantment with a religion that was once the bedrock of entire nations. Consider the fallout from Sandusky's actions and Penn State's cover-up, both for students and football. Consider how distressing it is for Brits to now come to terms with the fact that the man they watched every night on TV in their living rooms was routinely raping kids just before going on air.
Given the prevalence of incest, and that the family is the basic unit upon which society rests, imagine what would happen if every kid currently being abused—and every adult who was abused but stayed silent—came out of the woodwork, insisted on justice, and saw that justice meted out. The very fabric of society would be torn. Everyone would be affected, personally and professionally, as family members, friends, colleagues, and public officials suddenly found themselves on trial, removed from their homes, in jail, on probation, or unable to live and work in proximity to children; society would be fundamentally changed, certainly halted for a time, on federal, state, local, and family levels. Consciously and unconsciously, collectively and individually, accepting and dealing with the full depth and scope of incest is not something society is prepared to do.
In fact society has already unraveled; the general public just hasn't realized it yet. Ninety-five percent of teen prostitutes and at least one-third of female prisoners were abused as kids. Sexually abused youth are twice as likely to be arrested for a violent offense as adults, are at twice the risk for lifelong mental health issues, and are twice as likely to attempt or commit teen suicide. The list goes on. Incest is the single biggest commonality between drug and alcohol addiction, mental illness, teenage and adult prostitution, criminal activity, and eating disorders. Abused youths don't go quietly into the night. They grow up—and 18 isn't a restart button.
How can the United States possibly realize its full potential when close to a third of the population has experienced psychic and/or physical trauma during the years they're developing neurologically and emotionally—forming their very identity, beliefs, and social patterns? Incest is a national nightmare, yet it doesn't have people outraged, horrified, and mobilized as they were following Katrina, Columbine, or 9/11.
A combination of willed ignorance, unconscious fears, and naivete have resulted in our failure to acknowledge this situation's full scope, but we can only claim ignorance for so long. Please reread the statistics in this post, share them with people you know, and realize that each and every one of us needs to pressure the government, schools, and other systems to prioritize this issue. Let's make this the last inaugural address in which incest and child sexual abuse are omitted, because the way things are now, adults are living in a fantasy land while children are forced to slay the real-life demons.