August 6, 2007

Need of the hour!

CBSE moots helpline for girls
(Sonia Sarkar)

Alarmed by the rising sexual harassment cases among school children,
CBSE has asked schools to create a helpline for women and girl
students. Nodal offices and committees will be constituted to act as a
redressal cell, adopted preventive measures and also initiate
immediate administrative action against the guilty.

The schools have been asked to distribute printed information about
such committees in the form of booklets and brochures free of cost to
the target group, said a senior CBSE official, He added: "The
redressal of complaints should be done in three months, after which
the administration should be answerable to the committee explaining
the delay."

The board has directed schools to act tough with the guilty as far as
a nature of punishment for concerned. "The punishment should be
decided upon the guilty of the offence and taking complaint's
viewpoint into consideration," the circular issued to the schools
stated. It also said that the name of the harasser and the action
taken against him should be made public by putting it up on notice
boards. Realising that mere definition of sexual harassment will not
help the girls to understand the meaning and intensity of it, the
board stated that the students should be given education by various
means not only about the physical and biological growth and related
aspects, but also about how to discern for themselves, the right
and wrong behaviour of the opposite sex.

"We have also given a policy paper about adolescent sexuality ˆ the
developmental problems, menstruation, masturbation, teenage pregnancy,
sexually-transmitted diseases, child sexual abuse, sudden bevioural
and physical changes in children-like anxiety, depression, low
self-esteem, hostility, irritability and changes in appetite," said
the official.

To handle such cases, the board has advised the teachers to take
special care of the victimised children. The circular stated that the
teachers should not scold the victim or create panic, rather they
should believe him or her and try to remain calm. The child's privacy
should be respected and teachers should not discuss the incident in
front of others, it emphasised. Teachers are also asked to behave
responsibly and arrange for medical checkup for the victim, if needed.
Source: Times of India. 16 august, 2006.p.7

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