CBSE: Direct Schools to Have Mandatory Training for Students to Fight Child Sexual Abuse

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A 10-year-old boy asked me a question that shook me to my core.

I had just conducted a session on personal safety for school boys in Hyderabad. They were made aware of what safe and unsafe touch is, what non-touch abuse and online abuse look like, they learnt the power of saying NO and more importantly, which "trusted adults" - mostly parents, teachers or grandparents - to go to in case they see or face abuse.

Just as I was patting myself on the back for a successful session, a young boy, not more than 10 years old, walked up to me and asked; "Didi, whom should I go to if I can't go to my parents?"

In my four years of working extensively in the field of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), that question meant only one thing: one of his parents was the perpetrator!

My team and I immediately took the necessary action. Our first priority was to get the boy to a safe space. The investigation revealed that his father had been abusing him at home for almost two and a half years.

The sad truth is that I’ve come across many children who go through what this boy did. All of them are helpless, silenced and traumatized. But very few show the courage that this boy did by speaking out and asking for help.

As adults, it’s not enough to provide children with just roti, kapda, makaan (food, clothing and shelter). We need to give them a space, a voice and a language of safety.

As children spend more time in school than at home, I believe schools should take the lead in spreading awareness on reporting child sexual abuse. That is why I have started this petition. 

Sign my petition asking CBSE to release a circular to all CBSE-affiliated schools to annually give compulsory training to fight child sexual abuse in an age-appropriate-manner for all classes. 

I believe CBSE already understands the importance of such a program because of its past record. In 2017, it issued a circular asking schools to popularize e-POCSO boxes (for children to anonymously report child sexual abuse cases) and screen the film ‘Komal’ (on the same theme).

However, we need to empower our children further by giving them the knowledge and language to fight. The more we talk to our children about it, the more they will understand it and become comfortable reporting it.

As CBSE has nearly 21,500 schools under its umbrella, let’s urge it to lead by example and become a pioneering role model for other boards.

Sign my petition today and give every child a voice. Let’s #BreakTheSilence

(The image I have used above is from a workshop on child safety that I had conducted in Hyderabad in 2019.)