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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sex safety drills go to schools

Mumbai: Unpalatable though the subject might be, the recent molestation of a fouryear-old on a school bus has been a stark reminder to parents, care-givers and school staff of the pressing need to discuss sexual safety with children. As experts point out, it's never too late or too early. 
    In her cautionary book, The Sex-Wise Parent,Dr Janet Rosenzweig says the most important gift parents can give their children if they want to keep them sexually safe and healthy is information—about how their body works and about how the other gender's body works. 
    "Parents need to normalize every part of the child's 

body in explaining it to them, and not feel embarrassed about private parts. A child who doesn't have appropriate language for their body parts is at risk because a predator can make them feel shame," she told TOI. 
    Hard as it is, individuals, schools and non-profits are not only taking pains to learn and convey to children the language of sexual safety, but are also conducting workshops, disseminating literature and on the whole, broaching the subject more determinedly. Swati Popat Vats, president of the Podar Education Network and author of the advisory pamphlet When Touch Becomes Trouble, says their schools have made it mandatory for parents of children from nursery to class 3 to attend workshops on 'Good Touch/ Bad Touch'. 
    "Older students are shown an educational video," she says. "Volunteers from 
our schools in Andheri and Santa Cruz have also visited housing societies in their neighbourhoods to conduct workshops, and we have distributed our brochure free to several schools in Mumbai." 
    The non-profit Childline has been taking the safety drill to schools through rolepay and props. Nishit Kumar, head, communications and strategic initiatives, Childline India Foundation, says at the end of the session, volunteers give children sealed envelopes which contain literature for parents on child 
sexual abuse, how to recognize symptoms, how to help the child recognize them, and how to seek recourse. "Only a day ago, I received a request from a parent for 500 copies of that letter, which he wants to distribute in Dharavi," Kumar says. Most parents, he says, lack the language, if not theconfidence,todiscusssexualsafety withtheir children. 
    Acknowledging that preventive measures are the best course, counsellors also recommend that parents watch out for signs of abuse for not every child readily describes 
it. Zill Botadkar, a play- and arts-based therapist, remembers how a 5-year-old was brought in by her mother as she suddenly turned reclusive. "When we worked with dollsduring therapy,thechild kept removing the doll's clothes and touching her private parts," Botadkar recalls. But before she could make conclusive assumptions and offer the child rehabilitation, the parents withdrew her from therapy as the joint family, of which they were part, were not supportive. Incidentally, that too is a crime. 

It is never too early to talk to children about good/bad touch 
Kids' chatter, their behaviour and art often hold clues to their state of mind. Pay attention 
Paedophiles can be male or female 
Bad touch works both ways: A child may be 
inappropriately touched and also be made to touch the offender 
    Most sexual offenders use tickling and games to create a false sense of comfort with the child 
    Always ensure your child is supervised by a trusted individual; don't trust domestic help 

Housewife molested 
Ahousewife was molested and assaulted in public by a man when she protested against his indecent behaviour in Kalyan last Wednesday. The victim, a resident of Pisavali, was at a mobile phone shop when the man, identified as Vicky, came close by, passed lewd comments and made vulgar gestures. When she protested and warned him, police sources said, the man started molesting her. The accused assaulted her when she slapped him. 
    It was only after she informed her family about the incident on Saturday, that they lodged a complaint with the Manpada police. The police booked Vicky under Sections 354 (molestation), 509 (eve-teasing), 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt) and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs50) of the Indian Penal Code. "We have started a probe and will nab the accused very soon," said assistant inspector Pandarinath Bhalerao. —Pradeep Gupta 
Flasher arrested 
A20-year-old youth was arrested by the Gamdevi police for allegedly outraging the modesty of woman on Saturday. Dhaniram Bahadur, a native of Uttar Pradesh, stays near Gol Deval in South Mumbai and does odd jobs. The police said the complainant, a nurse with a private hospital, was at a bus-stop when Bahadur stood in the opposite direction on Pedder road, unzipped his pants and passed lewd comments. Onlookers caught him and handed him over to the police when the nurse raised an alarm. TNN


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