Child Sexual Abuse & Intervention at School -Rev.Dr.Jose Puthenveed
International, National and State Laws promote three goals for child protection namely: Safety, Permanency and Child and family well-being.
Children spend a large portion of their time in school, which gives educators more access to students. Each individual who is involved with children has the obligation of knowing the basics of how to protect children from harm.
The protection of children is not only an individual issue, but a community concern. . Educators are trained to recognize and intervene when children are not able to benefit fully from their educational opportunities.
The law requires educators to report child abuse and neglect, provides protection for those educators who become involved, and penalizes those who fail to meet their obligations.
Prevention programs are now designed to inform children about good, bad, and confusing touch.
Currently, over half of the States have legally prohibited the practices of hitting, paddling, or punishing children with physical force.
The child protection mandate must be reflected not only in the policies but also reflected in every aspect of the school administration and management.
To protect children from some all forms of violence or abuse various legislations enacted in India.
Goa Children’s Act – its Implementation in Goa. – Adv. Emidio Pinho
The Goa Children’s Act 2003 (GCA) came into being after a number of deliberations from all sections of society. It was passed by the legislative assembly of Goa on the 30-4-2007. The Government of Goa under powers of appointment has appointed all Mamlatdars as special officers to look into violations and enforcement of the provision of the GCA.
Child under this act has been defined under section 2(d) as any person who has not completed eighteen years of age. But variations do exists in the GCA i.e. for child labour it is 14 years, for rape it is 16 years and for other offence it is 18 years.
This Act has given a holistic approach to the victims in cases of Child abuse. Inspite of this act, at the police station the victim is repeatedly questioned about the incident. It’s only after the police inspector and other investigating officer are convinced, that the NGO is called in for assistance in supposedly counseling the child and to help in recording of the statement.
The statement which is meant to play an important role in conviction is not recorded in child’s language and sometimes not in the sequence narrated by the victim.
This act has banned corporal punishment in school and has made education providers liable to provide, safe drinking water, sufficient toilets, counseling and admission for all children in absence of relevant documents under the principal of zero rejection. This act provides for liability and punishment to care givers in cases of abuse of children their custody
All children who have not completed the age of 14 are prohibited from all forms of work. This act provides for stringent punishment to the offenders.
Juvenile Justice Act 2000
This act is a central legislation and applicable to the whole of India. The Juvenile Justice Act 2000 is primarily governed by the principle of rights to privacy and confidentiality
Goa Children’s Act 2003
This act is a state legislation applicable to the whole of Goa. The main tenet of this Act also is the right to Privacy and confidentiality9. Goa Children’s Act 2003 (GCA) plays an important role in advocating the rights of the victim.
Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act 2012
This is a Central Legislation and is applicable to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir. POCSO Act intends to protect the child’s right to privacy and confidentiality through all stages of a judicial process involving the child.
The Role of a School Counselor & Teacher in Child Sexual Abuse Prevention in School –Sr Josephine Libi Arakkal
There are four primary forms of abuse that can be reported. They include: Physical abuse, Child neglect, Emotional abuse, and Sexual abuse
When talking with the child the educator should not appear shocked as a strong reaction may affect the child’s comfort level and the child should be put at ease, and the educator should sit near the child. The educator who talks with the child should be the designated person to handle such matters. The child may be afraid that either he or she will be taken from the home or the parent may be arrested. It is important that the educator abides by the promise to protect the child’s right to confidentiality. There are various consequences of child abuse and neglect and these consequences affect largely a child’s educational activity and they become a hurdle to make a children have an excellent academic record.
Report should be made with the special juvenile police or the local police. If not reported shall be punished with imprisonment of either description which may extend to 6 months or with fine or with both.
When the child returns – the role of a teacher never discuss the matter in the class room and if the Child is treated as any other child encourage the child to go for professional counseling
The role of a school counselor is building rapport skills, helping the pre-school children have difficulty with spontaneous recall.
The question of Child Sexual Abuse from the Journalist lens
-Ms Rajeshree Nagarsekar
Media have been essential to the task of placing the problem of child abuse in the minds of the public and on the political agenda. Significantly, the media have appeared, at times, to have more influence on child protection policy and practice than professionals working in the field
While acknowledging that the media’s portrayal of child abuse and child protection can have negative consequences for children and their families, it is argued that media coverage is vital if public concern for children is to remain on the political agenda, and if child protection services are to remain accountable.
Media representations are the primary source of information on social problems for many.
Outcome of the group discussions
Polices for Physical Abuse
- Management should have awareness sessions for teachers regarding various issues with an aim to create greater sensitivity and awareness about issues, to enable them to protect children from potential abuse.
- Corporal punishment should not be accepted. Teachers who adopt corporal methods for dealing with disciplinary issues should be harshly dealt with.
- In case of disobedience, the child should be given detention, it may be given one day of detention or a week. Typically, one classroom will be set aside for detention, and a teacher or administrator will supervise, the student can read or do homework but not talk to anyone or play games. Students, might be given an assignment like writing lines or an essay. There will be additional consequences if the child does not show up for detention
- In addition to detention, the parents of the child will be informed. The counsellor will speak to the parents and the child to ensure that the mistake is not repeated.
- Various posters and circulars related to the topic of physical abuse should be displayed on various notice boards in and around the campus.
- Whenever a matter of physical abuse is reported against a teacher, severe action should be taken. The school board/committee should be immediately notified and a meeting should be scheduled.
Policies for Sexual Abuse
- All the personnel or faculty members employed in the institution must be carefully screened and selected.
- The faculty should undergo various training programs to sensitise them on the issue of child sexual abuse.
- There must be a Zero Tolerance Policy against any form of sexual abuse.
- There must be a full time counsellor present in the campus. There must be a male and female counsellor present to deal with sensitive issues.
- There must be CCTV cameras installed all over the campus to monitor the daily functioning of the institute.
- Preferably, there must be CCTV cameras installed in the buses as well. If the buses are not monitored by these cameras, there must be another adult present to monitor the children and get them home safely. These bus safety attendants also have to report student behavior or concerns to the school, diffuse arguments between students and provide seating arrangements if required.
- Awareness programs should be conducted regularly for parents
- There must be written affidavits taken from the management, teaching staff, non-teaching staff, bus drivers, conductors and all other members involved in the functioning of the institute while making the policy.
Policy on Child Care
- Every school must constitute a child protection committee headed by a child protection officer. Formation of these committees will help tackle the problem of child abuse at a grass root level.
- Volunteers, should be selected with the support of the faculty and counsellors to anchor the child protection activities in the school. These volunteers are to be selected during a parent teacher interaction meeting, which provides the volunteers a mandate from the institution.
- Regular trainings should be held for the volunteers, students, lecturers, counsellors and other faculty members, with special focus on child protection.
- Awareness posters are to be displayed on buses and to be advertised on the school premises.
- There must be a female physical educator present along with a full time doctor in the campus.
- There must be a full time male and female counsellor present in the campus.
Policy for a Counsellor in School
1. The counsellor must have a degree from a recognized university.
2. The counsellor must have a degree in Psychology and not Social Work in order to be employed.
3. The counsellor must be approachable and have soft skills.
4. The counsellor should be working in one school and not several schools at once.
5. A room should be provided to the counsellor where the student can converse privately.
6. The child should not be sent for counselling for any silly reason.
7. The counsellor has to be aware of his/her boundaries.
8. The counsellor must keep all interactions with the students private and confidential.
9. There must be a good rapport between the counsellor and the teacher.