According to a study conducted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, in 2007, 1 in 2 children in India experiences some form of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA). Also, the National Crime Records Bureau reported, a staggering 170 CSA cases recorded daily, with 7 cases being reported per hour (NCRB 2021). CSA is an issue that impacts millions of children worldwide. If not healed, it can have a serious, long-term impact on the well-being and overall development of the child.
Arpan is India’s largest NGO working to prevent CSA and heal those affected by it. At Arpan, we believe every child matters and has the right to be safe and protected from sexual abuse and heal from its ill effects. For this, we have been reimagining ways to achieve cultural and systemic transformation to create a world free of CSA and empower stakeholders to work towards the cause. With this vision, Arpan initiated the ‘Child Safety Week’ campaign in 2019 as a collaborative movement to raise awareness and encourage collective action on the issue of CSA. A week in November, 14th to 20th is dedicated to highlighting the importance of child safety through conversations and events.
Why the week of 14th – 20th November?
14th Nov – Children’s Day in India
18th Nov – World Day for Prevention, Healing and Justice to End Childhood Sexual Violence
19th Nov – World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse
20th Nov – International Children’s Day
This year the objective of Child Safety Week is to help adults understand that ‘It’s Okay To Say No’ and to challenge the cultural norm of saying ‘Yes’, thus ensuring the safety of children.
THEME: ‘IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO’
We live in a world where saying ’Yes’ is the cultural norm and saying ‘No’ is equated to being disrespectful, disobedient, rude and selfish. This prevailing culture makes it difficult for many of us to say ‘No’, teach our children to say ‘No’ and accept a ‘No’ from others. Our children are conditioned to obey everyone, especially adults, unquestionably even if they are uncomfortable and unsafe. It is imperative that we say ‘Yes’ to children’s well-being and safety by accepting that ‘It is okay to say ‘No’.
This theme aims to help us:
- Understand that to be safe, children need skills to communicate their personal boundaries and refuse assertively.
- Teach children to say ‘No’ assertively when they feel uncomfortable, unsafe, pressured or when someone crosses their personal boundaries.
- Accept that it is okay for children to say ‘No’ in matters concerning their well-being and safety without adults feeling threatened and respect children’s feelings without equating their ‘No’ with disobedience or disrespect.
- Stop negative reinforcement by punishing children when they say ‘No’.
- Understand that it is not a child’s fault if they cannot say ‘No’ or refuse in an unsafe situation.
What we are doing:
- A social media campaign with hashtags #ItsOkayToSayNo #ChildSafetyWeek #Arpan.
- Inspire and encourage adult stakeholders to understand that ‘It’s okay to Say No’, break the culture of saying ‘Yes’, protect children and teach them assertive refusal skills when they feel unsafe or uncomfortable along with handling disclosures effectively and conducting awareness sessions with other adults, especially parents.
- Video bites from celebrities and influencers on the issue of CSA and its prevention and intervention, creating a culture and space for children where it’s okay to say ‘No’.
- Run a public transport campaign to advocate for safer travel for children.
- A media outreach program with press releases.
How can you participate?
- Post about Child Safety Week and the theme with hashtags #ItsOkayToSayNo #ChildSafetyWeek #Arpan
- Teach children about Personal Safety or reiterate its messages to focus on refusal skills and saying ‘No’ in an unsafe situation (do a refresher session).
- Organise a discussion with parents and other adult stakeholders to help them understand that it’s okay for children to say ‘No’.
- Conduct a wall painting event to spread the message ‘It’s Okay to Say No’.
- Organise a street-play or role-play to initiate conversations on creating a culture of saying ‘No’.
- Hold a poster-making competition in schools where children can draw/paint messages related to personal safety and assertive refusal.
- Hold a poetry-writing competition where children and adult writers can share messages on that it’s okay for children to say ‘No’ if they feel unsafe or uncomfortable, how to say ‘No’ assertively and on breaking the culture of saying ‘Yes’.
Imagine a world where children can grow up with dignity, respect and happiness. A world where they can explore, learn and play without fear of abuse or harm. A world where they can express their feelings, opinions and choices confidently without being silenced or shamed. A world where they can trust and be trusted by the adults in their lives. Sounds like a dream, right? Let’s make it a reality!
CSW 2023 is a crucial initiative to spread awareness and inspire action towards creating a safe world for our children. It is an opportunity to join hands with Arpan and become a part of the campaign. Let’s tell our children #ItsOkayToSayNo!
You can start conversations on social media, host or attend an online event and various other activities. You can follow us on our social media, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +91 73045 16832 to know more.
Find FREE, age-appropriate resources to teach your children Personal Safety here!