In August 2012, the Chhattisgarh State Commission for Protection of Child Rights started raising awareness about a topic that is considered taboo. It put up posters in over 1,200 ashram schools in the state to educate children and adults about child sexual abuse.
One poster explains a simple three-step process telling children what to do if they are subject to abuse. CHILDLINE’s helpline number (1098) is also given so that children can report such a crime and seek help. Another poster lists offences and punishments under the POCSO Act.
“Many students shared with me that it was good to get this information through posters because they don’t feel comfortable talking about such topics. Teachers found them helpful as well,” says Gayatri Netam, Assistant Commissioner of the Tribal Welfare Department, Chhattisgarh, who oversaw this activity.
The commission has even organized workshops in other schools. One example is the Delhi Public School, Raipur, where an intensive two-day training on personal safety and child sexual abuse was conducted for students and teachers. The school conducted a similar session for parents to allay any fears they might have had. Some parents were so enthusiastic that they conducted workshops with the children living in their building as well. “Four–five parents informed me that their children had reported abuse after the workshop; one student even spoke to her teacher,” says Dr Amba Sethi who counsels at the school.
Dr Sethi is happy to help other schools in Chhattisgarh that would like to educate students, teachers and parents about personal safety. She can be contacted at email@example.com.