Mumbai: A Mumbai-based organisation, Arpan, works towards creating environments free of child sexual abuse (CSA). It holds child safety education, both for children and the adults around them, including teachers and other staff, in schools, institutions or communities dealing with children. These free courses are conducted in three hour-long sessions over four to six days. The first is with teachers, then with parents (to take their consent and involve them), and finally with children.
For younger children, it starts with being taught to understand and appreciate their own bodies, which is important to build self-esteem, and then to properly identify private body parts, which helps them express their problems. Next, they are taught to understand the difference between safe and unsafe touch, to deal with unsafe situations and ways to escape them. Older children are also taught their legal rights; for instance, that abuse does not just mean inappropriate touch but also inappropriate speech, or being asked to look at videos or pictures. The sessions then guide the children about feelings of guilt if they are abused, and encouraging them to open up with trusted adults around them.
Annette Koshy, principal of MVM High School, Andheri (W), where these sessions were conducted, says: “It’s very important that teachers be made aware of dealing with child sex abuse, since we are involved with so many children. The team was very dedicated and thorough professionals; they are very unassuming and do not hamper working of the school.”
Pooja Taparia, Arpan’s founder and chief executive, says, “I feel very hopeful about the present and future where children will grow in an abuse-free environment.” She says it is important that adults take on the responsibility of protection, helping children participate in their own safety and letting them know they can seek help in unsafe situations.
Arpan has also brought out personal safety education kits — for teachers, parents and community leaders, to enable them to educate, detect, handle and cope with CSA — in English, Hindi and Marathi.
Source: The Hindu