Sexual abuse of children and adolescents is increasingly becoming a matter of great concern. According to a 2007 nationwide study by the government, 53 per cent of children reported one or more forms of sexual abuse and 50 per cent of abusers were known to the child or were in a position of trust and responsibility.
In an effort to sensitize the school authorities on the growing incidences of sexual abuse of children and adolescents and ways to protect them, Smile Foundation recently held a sensitisation workshop for principals and heads of 14 schools in the region through its Child for Child programme.
The workshop, ‘Protecting Our Children and Adolescents from Sexual Predators’, was conducted by Dr. Ali Khwaja, Founder and Head of Banjara Academy. It focused on ways schools can safeguard their children from people who could turn out to be sexual predators.
Crucial points touched upon by Dr. Khwaja included the importance of sex education and role of parents in providing early sex education in the family; improvement in interpersonal relationships by developing an understanding of children and adolescents; parenting issues; and ways of handling children of all age groups by teachers.
Dr. Khwaja said, “Children are abused not only by cruel people, but also by people who pretend to love them. The best weapon that a child can use to protect himself is to raise his voice and be heard. If we empower the child to speak out and express, any child will be able to protect him/herself far better.”
Principals and heads of schools who attended the workshop, voiced their appreciation for the informative session, which they felt would help them connect better with their students and understand their issues.
The Child for Child programme of Smile Foundation has actively been involved in the sensitisation of the privileged masses to engage them in the process of change. Last year, the programme reached out to 900 reputed schools in 410 districts of India, sensitising the children, their parents and teachers.
Smile Foundation is a non-profit development organisation working for the welfare of underprivileged women, youth and children in 25 states across India. It directly reaches out to 200,000 underprivileged people through 185 projects on education, health, livelihood and empowerment of women and girl children.