'Speak Out' scheme to check child abuse

'Speak Out' scheme to check child abuse

Child rights commission to encourage kids to break their silence

The capital's child rights commission will run an awareness programme in 150 government-run schools, encouraging children to speak out if they are sexually abused.

And over the coming months, the campaign could cover all private and government schools in the city.

But first, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights and child rights non-governmental organisation Plan India will run the programme as a pilot project in 150 Municipal Corporation of Delhi schools.

Experts say it is an essential step, as statistics gathered by voluntary organisation are disturbing. According to Dr A V Baliga Memorial Trust member Ashok Kumar, over 20 per cent of children have faced sexual abuse. “Most children do not report such matters to anyone,” he said.

Child Line India Foundation says the country has the world's largest number of sexually abused children: a child below 16 years is raped every 155th minute and a child below 10 years is raped every 13th hour. The World Health Organisation (WHO) says one in every 10 children is abused at any given time in India.

Tiss study

A study conducted by Tata Institute of Social Sciences (Tiss) said one out of every three girls and one out of 10 boys had been abused.

Work has begun on a proposal to include awareness classes in schools as part of the curriculum.

“If this pilot project is successful, we will be able to extend the awareness programme to other MCD schools, and private schools as well. There are close to 1,800 Municipal Corporation of Delhi schools in Delhi. We will also have counsellors who will respond to any questions children might have about sexual abuse or how to react or whom to contact if they want to report any incident,” said Priti Mahara, programme co-ordinator from Plan India Delhi.

Expansion plan

The plan is to expand the pilot project for schools and an existing initiative “Chuppi Todo” — or Speak Out —  run by Baliga Trust, Plan India and Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights into a child abuse awareness programme which would cover all Delhi schools in 2012.

“Under the campaign, critical issues related to sexual abuse and awareness about safe and unsafe touch will be spread among children, parents and teachers,” said Shashank Shekhar advocate and member Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The larger campaign is expected to reach around two lakh children and almost 50 per cent of adults living in different parts of Delhi.

Welfare suggestion

Child welfare committees suggest that members from children clubs, play artists and resident welfare associations should also be included in the campaign.

“Even inclusion of schemes like SABLA (for empowerment of adolescent girls) and Integrated Child Development Services in awareness initiatives can help us reach citizens and children in remote areas,” said Nira Malik, a member of Delhi's child welfare committtee.

Key points

* Delhi Commission  for Protection of Child Rights and child rights NGO Plan India will run the programme as a pilot project in 150 MCD schools

* Work has begun on a proposal to include awareness classes in schools as part of the curriculum

* The plan is to expand the pilot project a child abuse awareness programme which would cover all Delhi schools in 2012

* Children welfare committees suggest members from children clubs, play artists and resident welfare associations should also be a part of the project

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