A ‘safe schools’ initiative launched

Staff Reporter

Pamphlets with messages to help children keep their bodies safe distributed

CHENNAI: Children in schools across the city would soon be receiving colourful pamphlets with messages to help them keep their bodies safe and talk about unsafe touch to elders as part of the ‘Safe Schools’ initiative, launched on the World Day for the Prevention of Child Abuse here on Monday.

“If we use the language of good and bad to talk about child abuse, children are less likely to report incidents when the words have such value connotations. That is why the pamphlets talk about safe and unsafe touch instead,” said Vidya Reddy of the Tulir Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse (Tulir CPHCSA).

The Tulir Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse has produced the content for the pamphlet.

Distribution of the pamphlet titled ‘Un Pathukapuku Sila Yosanaigal’ (some suggestions for your safety) was initiated by Mayor M. Subramanian at the Chennai Corporation Middle School on St. Mary’s Road, Alwarpet.

Some 150 students at the school received the pamphlets.

Printed by the Corporation of Chennai, the pamphlets are written in engaging conversational Tamil. They begin by telling children that their body is their own and that no one had the right to harm it. Children are urged to refuse gifts given in exchange for allowing behaviour that makes them uncomfortable, make noise and leave a place when they are touched in an unsafe manner, and to report the incident to a trusted elder. It concludes by giving children space to write down their own suggestions for staying safe.

About 2,500 students in Good Shepherd School, Nungambakkam, were given pamphlets. Members of the school administration said that students in the primary section had been told to pass on the pamphlet to their parents to increase awareness. They also hope to organise more programmes on the issue.

More than 1 lakh students of Corporation schools would be getting the pamphlet, besides those in private schools interested in joining the campaign.

“This does not mean that children in Corporation schools are more likely to be abused,” reiterated Ms. Reddy, recalling the Tulir CPCHSA survey that found child abuse to be at roughly the same proportion across economic classes.

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