NCERT’s initiative on what constitutes sexual abuse is a step in the right direction
Apart from involving parents, it is also important for the school to create an environment where the child feels comfortable to report any untoward incidenteditorials Updated: Sep 20, 2017 12:57 IST
A child’s trust and inability to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate behaviour are always exploited by abusers. This is evident from the rising tide of sexual abuse against children in India most often at the hands of those entrusted to take care of them or who are known to them. The death of a young boy in a Delhi school is suspected to have been the result of a possible attempt at sexual abuse and the one positive to come out of this and similar incidents is the move by NCERT to include what constitutes a good touch and what is bad in school books. The books will also have helpline numbers, briefs about the Pocso Act and the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights. This will also serve as a guide to teachers.
This is good as far as it goes but parents too must be taken into confidence by schools in inculcating this awareness among students. In the past we have seen many instances of parents objecting to children being taught sex education in schools on the grounds that this is against Indian culture and also that it could encourage sexual curiosity. But given that the abuser is often someone who has access to the child at home, it is important that this information also comes from the parents. It is also important for the school to create an environment where the child feels comfortable to report any untoward incident. In a recent child rape case, the parents did not take note of the child’s complaints of not feeling well. Teachers and parents have to be sensitised to note and understand changing behaviour patterns in a child which could indicate that she is being abused. In many cases, the child’s complaints are not heeded if the abuser happens to be relative as matters like family honour come into the picture.
Schools also ought to have better counselling facilities which can be used to evaluate a child’s mental well-being and detect signs of abuse. Both at school and at home, the child should, as far as possible, not be left unsupervised. None of these are any guarantee that the child will be totally safe, but minimises the possibilities of abuse. The abuse in childhood has the potential to affect a person well into adulthood and cause psychological problems. The NCERT initiative should be the first in several steps to protect children from predators.