“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.”
Herbert Ward, director (1970–2000) of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, Boulder City, NV;
The seminar started with such a poignant quote. I can sit and discuss how unsafe the world is. It’s more dangerous now than what it was for us when we were kids. Probably true – But this doesn’t help in anyway. It’s about time we parents and even other adults open our eyes and acknowledge these heart wrenching facts.
· More than 53% of children in India have undergone sexual abuse – How many are actually reported? So where are these children?
· Sexual predator is usually someone who is close to the child – someone who is the protector
· The sex of the child or predator doesn’t really matter. It can be anyone.
We should take actions that prevents than wait for a time to react after it happens. This was the mood that was set in the recent Seminar On “How safe is your child?” an initiative by Gurgaon Police. The seminar was attended by everyone –The Police leading the way was Mr Alok Mittal – Commissioner of Police, Members of various District Administrations, and Members from Various Schools, Parents and NGO.
The remarkable aspect of this was the initiative the Gurgaon Police is taking in this. What I liked best was it was all about action and not just theory and discussion. They have with the help of various NGOs and Suggestions of parents have documented the steps that are necessary for making children safe in school.
This document will be posted in the Gurgaon Police website that we can view and also make suggestions. Once it’s formulated – this will be shared with the schools and it’s mandatory for the schools to follow these safety norms or face legal actions. The Document of course talks about protection against sexual abuse, but safety of a child in the broad aspect of – Fire safety, Accidents in schools, Kidnapping etc.
So what is our role as parents – Do we sit in the comfort of our AC homes and turn a blind eye and feel bad every time we read about it in the paper? Today Gurgaon Police has given us the platform to send it our suggestions – Doable – actionable points. So lets us also make a promise that we as parents will make this world safer for our kids
· Make the child aware of the dangers – “Good Touch and Bad Touch”
· Teach them to “ Yell – Run and Tell” in case they are in a situation like this
· If we know of any such happening around us – It’s our duty to report such acts
· Work with the schools in the safety policies that they are going to lay down
· Make ourselves aware of the Child Protection Act – POSCO 2012.
As a mother, I can’t stress enough on this subject. This is the unfortunate reality that there are such sick individuals who attacks a child in a sexual manner. They are just too young to probably even understand what is happening. Children are full of trust and look at every adult as a friendly person and hence they are vulnerable to abuse.
What we need to do is as parents is Listen to the child. The child may say things that are incomplete as they may not even be able to comprehend what has happened.
A comprehensive set of safety guidelines for schools has been prepared by The Gurgaon Police with inputs from several quarters, outlining simple preventive measures every school could adopt to ensure that children are safe at all times while in their care. Safety guidelines in this regard are available on Gurgaon Police website.
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