Following the shocking discovery of sexual abuse of a six year old in a Bangalore school last month, activists are emphasizing on the need for school to develop an effective child protection policy.
Apart from that, the activists are also asking for an increased awareness of the Protection of Children Against Sexual Offence (POSCO) Act, 2012.
Vidya Reddy of Tulir Center for the prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse stated that schools should be mandatory required to design a compulsory orientation in child protection for all of its staff members.
“There must be a clear-cut code of conduct and a reporting mechanism in every school. The orientation will also protect the staff and define boundaries so there is little room for ambiguity when they interact with students,” she stated, while adding it must also be outlined how an allegation of sexual abuse is managed after disclosure.
The school education department had issued a directive stating any teacher found guilty of child sexual abuse would face mandatory removal, retirement or dismissal, amongst other punishments. In addition, such perpetrators were also to be stripped off their academic credentials.
Anuradha Vidyashankar, head, south regional resource centre, Childline India Foundation, stated that their ‘1098’ helpline for handling such unfortunate incidents involving child sex abuse at schools received around 155 calls in 2013 alone.
“The POCSO Act makes reporting (of abuse cases) mandatory and it is important to break the silence. A lot of groups are working to create awareness which is leading to increased reporting. However, not just children, adults too must be made aware of the Act,” she said.
She added that it was a responsibility of the schools to have written child protection policy because schools were considered one of the safest places for a children.