Workshop to create awareness on ‘good touch, bad touch’ for Middle School children

Madhumittha was shocked when her nine-year-old son Swasthan told her how Ramu Anna was trying some ‘bad touches’ on him.

Ramu was the neighbour's teenage son and a regular visitor to their house.

On further probing Madhumitthan found out Swasthan was lured with a chocolate and taken to a dilapidated building in the vicinity. Thanks to the school awareness programme, the little boy realised that when the ‘anna’ touched his private parts, it was not right.

However, not many Government School children get an opportunity to learn about child abuse, good and bad touches. Thinking on these lines, the Madurai Chapter of Soroptimist International conducted a workshop on ‘Good Touch and Bad Touch’ for girls and boys of VI, VII and VIII Standards at Madurai East Panchayat Union Middle School, Chittampatti, as part of its child abuse prevention programme.

“With soaring incidents on child abuse, it is necessary for children to understand the problem and identify perpetrators so that it can be at the first instance,” says Anita Rajarajan of the Club.

Vice-president Soroptimist International (Madurai), Dr. Sudha Deep, through a power point presentation explained the good and bad touch to the young audience. With the help of colourful illustrations, she defined touch, feelings, skin and mind and how they are related to each another. She also explained parts of the body which are safe to touch and not so safe to touch and parts which should not be touched at all by others.

The awareness session was divided into three sections on “Touching, Saying No and Telling parents’ and teachers.” Dr.Sudha Deep explained how a good touch makes you feel good like hugs, kisses and pats on the back from a mother, friend, teachers while a bad touch makes children feel guilty and confused besides leaving them embarrassed.

Thorough out the session, Dr. Deep insisted that “it is your body and you have every right to say no to unwanted touches from others.” She also gave them a slogan, “NO, STOP (perpetrators) and TELL (parents and teachers).”

“It is a misconception that only girls are abused. We should equip both boys and girls to face the situation,” said Dr. Deep and added “Child sexual abuse does not only leave the child mentally traumatised but can also cause severe depression for a lifetime or sometimes even drive them to end life.” “Any touch that makes you uncomfortable and embarrassing is a bad touch,” she asserted.

The school Headmistress S. Niranjana Devi said, “Children have good instincts to find out something is wrong but they do not understand what it is. Besidesthe fear factor, predators’ threats make them weak and meek.”

“The child requires courage to be firm about his/her physical boundaries and be rude if the adult doesn’t stop,” she said and added “such regular awareness programmes would give them the guts.”

Tricky lesson

“It is a tricky lesson but unavoidable,” she noted.

Children should know what they need to do when someone touches them inappropriately. Children often think it is her/his fault the uncle/aunt touched him/her wrongly. We should teach them that it is not their mistake but rather the aunt’s or uncle’s, she pointed out.

A film on child sex abuse was also screened for the students.

The Club plans to conduct similar awareness meetings for parents separately and a combined session with students.

“A bad touch which makes you feel confused and uncomfortable should be discouraged and parents should be informed about it,” said VIII Standard student Bhavadharaini. She said: “I am ready to shout NO, STOP and TELL because I own my body.”