A child who is usually exuberant and happy to be in class suddenly and inexplicably becomes withdrawn and quiet. While the teachers in the class notice the change, they are unable to attribute it to anything tangible. They assume that it is only a phase, and move on.
There is no denying that teachers play an incredibly significant role in shaping the minds of their students. In fact, given the amount of time a child spends in school, it would not be wrong to say that they become the first port of call for students, in times of distress.
The National Crime Records Bureau, in a report, states that every 15 minutes there is one child in India who is sexually abused. These are alarming statistics.
Recognising that classrooms across the country, hold the future of the country, and to ensure that they are in safe hands, CII-Young Indians collaborated with Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) to conduct the world’s largest “Children Safeguarding Training” at Srinivasapura, Kolar with 1336 Teachers in attendance.
Speaking to The Better India, Ajith George, Co-Chair, Young Indians Bengaluru, said, “Most of us read newspaper reports of children being abused, and they leave us feeling angry. So, at Young Indians, we decided that we needed to Play A Part.”
“The teachers trained will ensure that all children in Srinivasapura are educated on how they can safeguard themselves.”
The one-day training programme saw the participation of various experts like Harish Bhuvan, the founder and facilitator of Compassionate Clowns, which is an NGO, and Ashwini NV, the Director of Muktha Foundation, along with volunteers from the Sankara Eye Hospital.
Concepts of body boundary, safe-unsafe touch, safety networkS and the nuances of the POCSO act were dealt with.
Empowering teachers with the know-how to handle and enable children to fight against abuse is a necessary step.
When it comes to children, as teachers and parents, some of the warning signs that we must never ignore and investigate thoroughly, are as follows:
• Inappropriate engagement with toys or objects
• Becoming unusually secretive
• Nightmares and sleeping problems
• Writing or drawing images with a sexual connotation
• Becoming extremely withdrawn or clingy
• Thinking of the self or body as repulsive or dirty
• Reacting in a surprised manner when asked if somebody is misbehaving with them
• Change in eating habits, difficulties in swallowing.
Applauding this initiative, Lalitha Chandrashekar, Joint Director, SSA, Karnataka said, “ [The] government of Karnataka has looked to implement a strong child protection policy, and we are pleased to work with partners to empower our teachers.”
“We have made a start today and will work to ensure that at least 10 lakh children benefit from this awareness.”
Throwing light on how the day-long session was planned, Ajith said, “While the topic was a serious one and attendance for the teachers was mandated by the government, we wanted to ensure that they enjoyed their day with us and took back some valuable inputs. We had planned the sessions in such a way that it did not get too content heavy or boring for them.”
The session helped the teachers understand how they could lend support to children who have faced sexual abuse, gave them an overview of the POSCO Act, and even provided them with techniques to handle cases of abuse.
“We used the largest mango auction house to conduct the session. It is a large place and one doesn’t feel like they are in a school setting.”
“These are small things but we saw that it made a huge difference to the teachers who attended,” said Ajith.
The intent is to take this programme to different districts in Karnataka as well as other states that have regional chapters of Young Indians.
Young Indians Bengaluru, which is an integral part of CII, comprises professionals and entrepreneurs who volunteer towards various projects that aim to construct and structure a national identity. ‘Masoom,’ one of their key projects, is an attempt at eliminating child sexual abuse through improved awareness among stakeholders.
For more information on Young Indians Bengaluru, write to firstname.lastname@example.org or log onto www.yibangalore.com or www.youngindians.net.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)