Educating Children on Child Sexual Abuse with Personal Safety Education Programme
In India, as in other parts of the world, children still fall victim to sexual abuse. Because this topic is still considered a taboo, abuse often gets reported, leading to lifelong trauma.
Pooja Taparia, Founder, Arpan says – ‘Arpan started working on the issue of child sexual abuse about 13 years ago. We found that there was hardly any work happening in the space of prevention. We also understand that wrong with children is the most critical part of prevention. So that they can understand differences between safe and unsafe touches, understand which their private body parts are. If such things happen what are they supposed to do, and who they can reach out to help.’
In 2008, Arpan developed the ‘Personal Safety Education Program’, implemented in partner schools from Grade level. It is not only a lecture method, it is usually a discussion. There are role plays, sometimes depicted through emoticons and flash cards. For private body parts, we do it using charts. So a very interactive method helps them to appropriately use the information that they teach them in classrooms.
A student, who is a part of the program says – ‘I have learnt that if somebody tries to touch, see or look at my private parts, I can prevent by saying no, and get away from them.’
Another student adds – ‘I learnt how to express feeling, everyone has a right to express feelings.’
The lesson plan consists of 4-6 sessions depending on grade level. Arpan trainers teach one session a day. After the classroom lesson plan happens, the trainers start meeting the children one on one and give them the opportunity to ask them if there is any abuse the child has experienced. In cases of ongoing child sexual abuse, Arpan makes sure that a counsellor meets the child within 24 hours.
Abused children receive regular counselling. Family counselling is also organized to restore a safe environment for the child. The program has intervened on behalf of 1,000 victims.
Sarita Dsouza, Headmaster, St. Antony’s High School says – ‘The effect has been quite positive over the years. Realizing the fact that they are special, they are unique makes them more confident.’
Arpan actively encourages parents and teachers to engage in the program. In addition, Arpan provides online sessions for children and parents throughout India.
A parent in their testimony said – ‘It bridged that gap between a parent and a child. I mean when my child first came home & said that they were taught to respect their body. It was a very innovative thing to hear.’
To date, Arpan has reached 100,000 students and aims to reach another 150,000 students in the next 5 years.
Arpan is also the recipient of 2019 WISE Awards. WISE is an international, multi-sectoral platform for creative thinking, debate and purposeful action. WISE has established itself as a global reference in new approaches to education.
As the largest NGO addressing the phenomenon of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in the country, Arpan provide prevention and intervention services to children and adults, irrespective of their socio-economic background, gender, sexuality, caste, religion and political affiliation. Arpan provides direct services to children, adolescents and adults to prevent Child Sexual Abuse and appropriately deal with disclosures of children and adolescents through our flagship programme – Personal Safety Education.
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