De Nobili School in Bhuli, Dhanbad, where a Class I girl
was sexually assaulted last month
There’s a huge difference between good touch and bad touch
Protest if anyone is touching you in a way that’s scary, be it a family member or someone close to the family, a person in position of authority, neighbour, driver or servant
Don’t talk to strangers or go anywhere with them; refuse biscuits and chocolates even if they insist
This isn’t normal playschool syllabus. But in the wake of increasing minor rape, molestation and murder in Jharkhand, capital playschools are finally waking up to safety lessons for tiny tots.
Indian society normally shuts its eyes to child sexual abuse by telling the tot to keep quiet or worse, disbelieving him or her, which gives predators the nerve to carry on.
In July-end, the silver lining to the shocking Dhanbad school sexual assault case was that the child’s mother listened to her when she complained of pain in her genitals.
Both parents believed the Class I tot from the De Nobili School in Dhanbad when she said an older boy of her school abused her.
In Ranchi, Bariatu playschool Roots to Wings teaches its tots to confide in parents.
That’s sensible because most abusers threaten children to secrecy through fear and guilt.
Its centre head Archana Sinha said they had a thematic curriculum for children between two-and-a-half and five years old. “We tell them not to take biscuits or toffees from strangers. We also speak about a good and a bad touch,” she added.
For instance, an affectionate hug and kiss on the cheek are examples of good touch. Excessive fondling, kissing on lips, tickling on private parts or touching under clothes are instances of predatory touching. “Most of all, we tell parents to be vigilant. This is an evil that society doesn’t want to face, but it’s there. So, let’s fight it,” she said.
Ashish Alok, director of playschool Kidzee at Bariatu, added he makes sure students between two-and-half and five years know about good and bad touch. “We tell children to avoid sitting on everybody’s laps, for instance,” director said.
In Ranchi, playschools took notice of child sexual abuse when Aamir Khan’s reality show Satyamev Jayate showed a stunned nation that 53 per cent of its children, were violated.
Mainstream schools are also facing this ugly reality pragmatically. M.K. Sinha, principal of DAV Kapildev, said from August 10, they started counselling and constituted a complaint box for students from Classes I to VII to use. “A three-member panel, including two teachers, will handle these sensitive issues.”
Ranchi district education officer (DEO) Maheep Kumar Singh said they were trying to reach out to schoolgirls in government schools. As most come from slums, they face an unsafe environment before puberty. “For schoolgirls between IV-VIII, we are designing a syllabus titled Jeevan Kaushal (Tips for Life) to help them tackle changes around them,” he said.
Ranchi Women Helpline, a joint venture of state social welfare department and XISS, has also come forward. “We have two helplines, 10921 and 0651-2532358. Anyone whose small daughters are feeling unsafe can call us,” said Sanjay Verma, chief programme coordinator.
Have you told your child the difference between a good and bad touch? Tell email@example.com