‘Schools must have child protection policy’

Following the rape of a six-year-old in a Bangalore school last month, activists are stressing the need for schools to have a child protection policy.

Also needed is increased awareness of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.

Vidya Reddy of Tulir-Centre for the Prevention & Healing of Child Sexual Abuse said schools must conduct mandatory orientation in child protection for all staff members joining the institution.

“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 said, adding it should also outline how the allegation is managed after disclosure.

In 2012, the school education department issued a government order that said teachers found guilty of child sexual abuse would face compulsory retirement, removal or dismissal.

Academic credentials of the teacher would also be cancelled, it said.

The department, through the State Council for Educational Research and Training, also held training programmes for primary- and middle-school teachers on child rights and protection.

A government middle-school teacher who received the training said it was very important for teachers to be aware.

An official, while stating that a teacher in Namakkal was dismissed some time ago, was non-committal on the number of such cases reported and action taken, since the government order came into effect.

A March 2013 CBSE circular stressed that teachers, management and all employees in schools be made aware of the POCSO Act’s provisions, some of which cast a duty on them to report instances of child abuse as in Sections 19 (I) and 21. It asked all CBSE schools to publicise the provisions of the Act and keep at least one copy of the gazette notification in the school library for reference.

Anuradha Vidyashankar, head, south regional resource centre, Childline India Foundation, a nodal agency of the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, said their ‘1098’ helpline received around 155 calls, last year.

“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. It is recommended that all schools have a child protection policy, and have it on paper, because schools are considered safe spaces for children, she said.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 2:46:48 PM |

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