Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Safe Schools

A vindication that if a child knows that the people around her/him are not in denial about unsafe touch, then that child has the confidence to disclose/discuss any confusion they may have about an uncomfortable situation - the first step to building a congenial environment towards protecting children.
Anti-child sex abuse boards in corporation schools prove effective
Revathi Ramanan, TNN, Feb 15, 2011, 06.45am IST

CHENNAI: Measures taken by Chennai Corporation schools to tackle child sex abuse have proven to be effective with more children coming forward and telling teachers about incidents of abuse faced by them. Even as these schools have woken up to reality and taken preventive steps to tackle it by prominently displaying boards which tell children about safe and unsafe touches, private schools in the city are yet to take any proactive measures.
The boards, which have been put in a prominent place in all the corporation-run schools, are an initiative of Tulir, an organisation working for prevention and healing of child sexual abuse in India, and the Chennai Corporation. They have been jointly funded by the UNICEF and Tulir. "The boards have very simple messages for the children about what to do in case they face abuse and are not explicit in nature. Child abuse is highly prevalent in the society and more schools need to come forward and take initiatives to fight this menace," said Vidya Reddy of Tulir. She added that while corporation schools had been proactive and allowed the boards to displayed on their premises, no private school had approached them yet.

"Most private schools think that if such boards are displayed on the premises, parents would take it as a sign that child abuse was prevalent in the school. This is an absurd line of thought and schools need to be proactive in fighting abuse rather than being sorry later," she said.
Private schools, however, said that they were not averse to the idea of displaying boards on the campus but they already had systems in place to deal with child sex abuse. "We have counsellors at all levels who the children can go and talk to when they face abuse," said Geetha Ramasubramanian, principal of Valiammal Matriculation Higher Secondary school.
Corporation schools said the boards have helped children come out and talk about their problems. "After they were put up, we have had a lot of children who work as domestic helps in homes, telling us about incidents of abuse. They read the board and realise that it is not something to feel ashamed about and are more open about it," said G Vasanthi, a corporation school teacher.
She added that after the boards were put up, children were coming forward and telling teachers not only about problems related to abuse but also eve teasing and general harassment. "A couple of years ago, if a parent came to know that a girl child was suffering from abuse, they would stop her education. Now they come forward for help," she said.

1 comment:

naina said...

Great initiative!Curious though, have you faced any opposition from parents for this?