September 13, 2007

Hindustan Times dt.12th Sept

Govt steps in to save schoolkids / Norms set to curb sex abuse of children
Chetan Chauhan

Parents need to keep an eye on sudden behavioural changes in their children, schools should get the antecedents of staff verified and keep the corridors well-lit, and both parents and schools should work to prevent sexual abuse of schoolchildren. These are part of a set of guidelines the government is planning to send to schools across the country to ensure that children are safe outside home.

About 49 per cent students in India have been sexually abused in school, according to a recent government study on Child Abuse.

The guidelines were drafted after HT reported on July 25 the case of a student who was sexually abused by employees of his Kingsway Camp school. An inquiry panel of the Women and Child Development Ministry, which looked into the case, found faults with the school, and recommended suspension of its licence.

The panel, headed by Lovleen Kacker, also drafted the guidelines. They include setting up of a committee, comprising teachers and parents, in each school to look into complaints by students. The panel also wants that schools should have qualified counselors to guide parents and children through situation of distress, including sexual abuse. Medical facility in schools has been prescribed as a mandatory condition in the guidelines.

The ministry has also made a strong case for a classroom environment where students can share personal matters with teachers. The students should also be taught safety rules for their protection. The guidelines suggest ways to check sexual abuse in schoolbus, hallways, hideaways and restrooms places identified in the child abuse study where the child is likely to be harmed.

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