To prevent child abuse, especially sexual abuse, the Delhi government’s Women and Child Development (WCD) department has decided to come up with awareness modules for three age groups —5-8 years, 9-12 years and 12-18 years.
Such an exercise — called Stay Safe-Prevention-Educating Children — has been taken up for the first time by the Delhi government.
“We have come up with a tentative design for the modules, which will also include a training module for fathers, mothers and caregivers, among others, about the existing legal provisions and standard operating procedures to ensure prevention of abuse. They would also be made aware of various symptoms to diagnose whether the child is being subjected to any kind of abuse,” Saumya Gupta, Director (WCD), said.
Efforts are underway to put together the awareness modules in close consultation with experts in the fields of justice, education, child welfare, institutions and civil society. The WCD department will also hold a one-day conference on ‘Strategies to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse’ next week.
“This brainstorming exercise to strengthen the fight against child abuse by imparting appropriate skills to our children is aimed at eliminating risk and vulnerability,” Gupta said.
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The module for the 5-8 years age group, for instance, will describe examples of positive and harmful practices, define sexual abuse, stress on persona safety, good touch and bad touch.
The module for 9-12 years will explain forced sexual activity, sexual abuse and its prevention, understanding their bodies, changing physiology and needs, among others.
The module for 12-18 years will deal with empowering those in the age bracket with legal provisions, among other things.
“In the pilot phase, these awareness modules would be implemented in the Delhi government-run homes for children in need of care and protection. Based on the experience, the modules maybe replicated at a larger level in all Delhi government schools. It is proven that effective early prevention efforts are less expensive to our system and to individuals than trying to fix the adverse effects of child abuse,” Gupta said.
Once the modules are finalised, the WCD department will invite comments by making them available online.
The department has also been trying to create awareness about Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POSCO) among all stakeholders. “Many cases can be averted if adequate prevention policies and measures are established as studies show that most people who abuse children are known to victims,” Gupta said.
Findings of a study by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2007 revealed that over 85 per cent of offenders were known to the victims — someone the victims trusted.
Only 25 per cent of the victims, the study found, had told anyone that they had been abused and only in 3 per cent cases, police had been informed.