July 23, 2020

Let’s Make Children Safe From Sexual Abuse

Childhood is a time of fun, frolic and excitement. It is a time when children discover the world in their own way. However, too many children are denied this opportunity because they are sexually abused. In most cases, the abuser is someone the child knows and trusts, maybe a parent, carer or neighbour.

Stories in the media coupled with misunderstandings about Child Sexual Abuse often makes us feel that Child Sexual Abuse is either inevitable or negligible. It either forces us to feel helpless as caregivers or forces us into denial that my child can never be abused. It also forces some of us to become hypervigilant. However, it is true that adults cannot be with children all the time. It is equally true that when parents and carers initiate conversations with children on personal safety and give them knowledge and skills, children can participate in their own safety.

We know it can be hard for parents and carers to talk to children about Child Sexual Abuse. No doubt, Child Sexual Abuse is an issue that is difficult to talk about, and often, difficult to even acknowledge. Every caregiver worries about their children’s safety, but there is also an apprehension that talking to children about personal safety,  will make them anxious and frighten them.

We agree that fear is not an effective teaching tool, but confidence is. Like you, we also want our children to grow up with the belief that most adults are safe. We also believe that physical affection is a vital part of bringing up children and should be positively encouraged. However, we also believe teaching children about personal safety from a young age provides them with knowledge and skills to prevent Child Sexual Abuse and seek support in case of any violations.

Parents and teachers can play a critical role in making children aware of personal safety as part of family or school safety rules. Just like you teach your children safety rules about crossing the road, you can also teach them about safe and unsafe touches. By initiating a conversation on personal safety you are also letting children know that you are always available for children to reach out to.  You are the child’s best teacher and when you teach children to take the safest action in any situation, it becomes empowering rather than crippling.

You’re not alone!! Having worries about a child is an uncomfortable feeling. Whether you’re concerned about your own child or another child, not knowing what to do or questioning if you’ve got things wrong can make it hard to act upon your worries. We can help you, and give you the confidence to make the right call. To learn more about ensuring the safety of children from abuse, please visit: https://www.arpanelearn.com

April 30, 2020

Red Flags to watch out for sexual abuse

Statistics show that one in every two children is sexually abused! Studies tell us that abusers are often persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility (family member, domestic help, close relative, neighbour, friend, school staff, etc.). The impact of child sexual abuse can last a lifetime if one does not find support or is healed. Most children quietly suffer and don’t talk about sexual abuse. But we need to TALK about it so that we can PREVENT it and HEAL its ill effects.
Certain signs to watch out for sexual abuse:
  • A sudden change in the child’s behaviour – passive, aggressive or overly pleasing.
  • Sudden fear, anxiety and resistance to certain places, people and situations.
  • A sudden change in eating and sleeping pattern – too much or too less.
  • Unexplained pain or swelling in the genital
  • Sexualized behaviour, i.e. age-inappropriate sexual play, sexual talk and activity.
 A parent or a caregiver who is aware can help a child who has been sexually abused.
Please note that these behavioural changes and physical concerns MAY be indicative of sexual abuse, but does NOT confirm sexual abuse. Also, no ‘one’ behaviour alone determines that a child has been sexually abused. But we need to be alert when we see these signs and talk to the child in a non-threatening manner to find out if there is abuse. It is also possible that the child shows certain symptoms not because he or she has experienced sexual abuse or any other kind of abuse, but maybe because of some other crisis – for example, death in the family.
To learn more about Child Sexual Abuse, signs and symptoms, you can visit www.arpan.org.in or make your child take the online Personal Safety course at www.arpanelearn.com

March 23, 2020

Ask The Right Questions To Know Whether Your Child’s School/Daycare Is Safe?

Unless homeschooling is an option for you, your child spends a considerable amount of time in school or daycare every day. Hence, it is very important that as parents or caregivers you are aware of the institutional environment. To help you be a more empowered parent, we have put together a few questions that you can pose to your child’s school or daycare toward making it a more conducive space, free from abuse, in general, and sexual abuse, in particular.     
  • Ask whether the institution has a Child Protection Policy to keep children safe from sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse, bullying and corporal punishment.
  • Ask whether the institution implements programmes on Personal Safety that teach children to identify safe/unsafe touch and situations, get away from the abuse and report to a trusted adult.
  • Ask whether the institution conducts training programmes for its staff to identify and prevent abuse and respond to disclosures appropriately.
  • Ask whether the institution conducts background checks of people before recruitment to ensure that they don’t have a history of child sexual abuse or any other form of child abuse.
  • Ask whether the institution has drawn up a protocol for handling disclosure and supporting children.
Let us proactively work with schools to make them safe spaces for our little ones. Let’s not wait to react once there is a crisis, but work with the schools and daycare facilities toward preventing the crisis.
You can call Arpan’s helpline 9819086444 or write at support@arpan.org.in  to know how synergies can be created to keep schools and societies safe for children.  To know more about child safety and how to make your child’s school safe, visit www.arpan.org.in or you can make your child take the online Personal Safety course at www.arpanelearn.com

March 17, 2020

How We Can Work Together With The Schools On Child Safety

Our children spend a good deal of their time in schools. Hence, it is very important that the school is a safe space for them. There are times when a child is abused in the school and tries to talk about it to someone from the school staff, but, because the staff lacks the knowledge and skills to respond to such cases or operates from a place of taboo, the child is hushed up or is socialized to believe that sexual abuse is a part of growing up and children eventually forget about it. We also hear about children harming other children in the school set up. It is time that rather than being reactive when there is a crisis, we start working with the school in creating a safe environment by empowering the school staff and children as well as by devising protocols to effectively respond to disclosure and provide healing support to children who are abused as well as to children who harm others. Take a moment and ponder upon the following:
  • Does your child’s school have a Parents Teachers Association (PTA)? Is it functional and efficient? If not, start one today.
  • Does your child’s school have a Child Protection Policy that talks about ways to keep children safe in school premises? If not, initiate the process.
  • Have you started conversing with your child about perso

    nal safety
    ? If not, start now.
Through the PTA, please encourage the schools to conduct Personal Safety Education (PSE) with children, teachers and service staff. So that children learn about setting boundaries and respecting boundaries – of one’s as well as others, are empathetic and compassionate. So that teachers and the non-teaching staff are equipped to prevent sexual abuse and effectively handle disclosures from children. To know more about child safety and make your child’s school safe, visit www.arpan.org.in  or you can make your child take the online Personal Safety course at www.arpanelearn.com

Let’s not wait to react and blame the school for lapses on child protection when there is a crisis. This will not ensure the safety of our child. Let us proactively work with the schools to make them safe.
Please call our helpline 9819086444 or write to us at support@arpan.org.in to know how we can work together in creating a safe school and a safe society.

October 16, 2019

How To Talk To Your Child About PERSONAL SAFETY

Personal Safety Education focuses on teaching children that they are special and have a wonderful body. Personal Safety teaches the children to feel and be safe, the skills to handle that information (such as assertiveness) and finally to build self-esteem to feel the confidence to practice the skills based on the information. We all have a right to feel safe and protected.
Personal Safety Education needs to be an on-going conversation about values, attitudes, and rights of children regarding keeping themselves safe. Parents/ caretakers are children’s best teachers and companions and are most suited to impart Personal Safety Education to Children.
What can a parent do?
  1. 18 Months – 3 years: Teach them the proper names of all body parts including private body parts.
  2. 3 Years – 5 Years: Teach your child that parts of the wonderful body covered by undergarments/ swimsuit are their private body parts.
3 Personal Safety Rules For Children :
Rule 1 – It is never alright for someone to TouchLook at or Talk about my private body parts except to keep them clean and healthy.
Rule 2 – If someone tries to break Rule 1, I will say “NO” and Run/Get Away.
Rule 3 – If Rule 1 is violated, I can tell someone I trust & keep telling until I get the help I need.
  1. 5 Years – 8 Years: Teach them to identify Safe & Unsafe Touches. Broaden their support system to include teachers & other caregivers away from home.
  2. 8 Years – 12 Years: Reiterate the messages of Personal safety. Address their anxieties and concerns around peer touching, bullying, and self-exploration.
  3. 12 Years – 18 Years: Prepare them for emotional & physical changes that they may experience. Support them to handle peer pressure & find their own identity. Help them to understand rights, responsibility, boundaries & privacy.
Teachers/trainers of Personal Safety Education Programme also need to talk to children and tell them that they need not be scared of all kinds of touches and assure them that they are empowered with the required knowledge and skill to be able to respond assertively when needed.

September 5, 2019

Teach Children Personal Safety Rules/Guidelines

As parents, we are the best teachers for our children to teach them about Personal Safety. We can use daily life events as an opportunity to talk to them about it. For instance, we can use ‘What If?’ questions to practice safety rules with our children. ‘What if your friend wants to play doctor-doctor and touch your private body parts?’ ‘What if someone asked you to jump off a wall?’ ‘What if an uncle or an older child wanted to play a secret touching game with you?’ This will make our children think about situations they may encounter and give them the confidence to take decisions and act accordingly.

Teach your children the three important safety rules

RULE NO. 1 - It is NEVER all right for someone to TOUCH, LOOK or TALK about your private body parts except to keep them clean and healthy. It is never alright for someone else to ask you to TOUCH, LOOK or TALK about their private body parts.

RULE NO. 2 - If someone tries to break this rule, say “NO” and GET AWAY.

RULE NO. 3 - TELL a TRUSTED ADULT and KEEP TELLING until you get the help you need.

Teach children the names of private body parts and introduce these names as part of their vocabulary when you teach them names of the other body parts like ear, eyes and nose. This way children will learn that there is no shame or embarrassment associated with private body parts. This also helps them in reporting abuse.

A few simple steps can help us keep our children safe. Arpan teaches Personal Safety Skills to children to keep themselves safe from abuse and to seek help when needed. To learn more, you can visit www.arpan.org.in or you can make your child take the online Personal Safety course at www.arpanelearn.com  

May 22, 2018

Vidya Balan joins the fight against Child Sexual Abuse as Arpan’s Goodwill Ambassador

Mumbai-based leading non-profit organisation working on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse has engaged Bollywood star Vidya Balan as their goodwill ambassador. She had played the role of Durga Rani Singh a survivor of child sexual abuse, in the movie Kahaani 2, where she saved another child who was being sexually abused by her uncle.

Photo Credit: Dabboo Ratnani 

Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) is a startling everyday reality for as many as half of the country’s children (National Child Abuse Study 2007). With the ever-increasing reports of child sexual abuse, we know that the scenario is not too different even today. Yet it is still an issue that is barely addressed. There is a limited acceptance that CSA happens and that it has a significant impact on children. CSA can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, addictions, and suicidal thoughts and can continue to disrupt the child’s life during adulthood if not healed.

Based in Mumbai, Arpan is one of the largest NGOs in India with over 100 social workers and counsellors providing prevention and intervention services to children and adults to address the issue of CSA. Over the last 10 years, Arpan has reached out to over 188,000 children, adolescents and adults directly. Arpan has also trained over 3,500 professionals across India and impacted over 4,60,000 children and adults. Arpan works on prevention of CSA through the Personal Safety Education Programme conducted in schools and communities, Training Programmes for relevant stakeholders, Policy Advocacy to bring in systemic change and healing through their Counselling Services to survivors of CSA.

 Photo Credit: Dabboo Ratnani 

Talking about her association with Arpan, Vidya said "I first connected with Arpan during the filming of Kahaani 2 to understand the issue better and get into the skin of my role. I was amazed by the kind of work Arpan does on the issue especially working with children across age groups and their caregivers to prevent Child Sexual Abuse and heal survivors from the trauma of such an ordeal. As a society, it is critical that we look at how such a social evil can be prevented and how each of us can play a role in keeping children safe. Given the current scenario in our country, now more than ever there is a need for all us to step up and work towards preventing Child Sexual Abuse.”

Ms Pooja Taparia, Founder and CEO of Arpan said "It is an honour for Arpan to have a celebrated actor like Vidya Balan as our Goodwill ambassador. Vidya’s roles have always been inspiring and action-oriented. It was a privilege working with her during the making of Kahaani 2. Her role in the movie as Durga Rani Singh, a survivor of child sexual abuse was a powerful one. She wasn’t a silent bystander, but actually took action to protect a girl from Child Sexual Abuse and that’s an inspiring message for all of us. Much like her role in the movie, over the years, Arpan has played a very important role in the lives of numerous children and adults in the prevention of Child Sexual Abuse. With Vidya Balan as our goodwill ambassador, we hope to influence many more people to speak up for prevention of child sexual abuse and to play an active role in creating a safe environment so that our children, the future of our nation, do not become victims of Child Sexual Abuse or have traumatic childhoods but have safe and happy childhoods.”

When asked what her message on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse is, Vidya said “My message to everyone is that don’t think that Child Sexual Abuse is something that happens to other’s children. The unfortunate truth is that it could happen to your child or it could be happening to your child. We all need to be vigilant. We all need to be aware and acknowledge when we see the signs. We need to educate our children so that when they experience an unsafe situation, they are empowered enough to get away and seek help from a trusted adult.”

What started in 2008 as a nascent organisation that reached about 600 people in a year, has now grown to an organisation that reaches over 56,000 people annually with the vision of a ‘World Free from Child Sexual Abuse’. Arpan is supported by Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala (India), Mr. Karl-Johan Persson (CEO, H&M Worldwide, Sweden), Goldman Sachs (India), Eros International Media (India), The Marshall Foundation (France), GMSP Foundation (UK), The Global Fund for Children (USA), Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (India), A.T.E and Chandra Philanthropic Foundation (India), British Asian Trust (UK), Reliance Foundation (India), Aditya Birla Finance Limited(India), Bajaj Auto Limited (India) amongst others. With Vidya Balan as a goodwill ambassador, here’s hoping that Arpan grows manifold in being able to amplify conversations around the issue Child Sexual Abuse while working diligently on its prevention and healing at the grassroots and systemic level.

April 13, 2018

Nickelodeon’s Together For Good initiative empowers kids to say “No to fear and yes to safety”.

Nickelodeon, the number one kid’s franchise, has returned with their global pro-socio initiative “Together For Good” which this year will address the burning issue of child safety.

With increasing incidents in the realm of cyber safety, bullying and physical harassment amongst kids at a young age, creating awareness around personal safety, is the need of the hour. Nickelodeon has set out to curate an awareness initiative that inspires and empowers kids to say, “No to fear and yes to safety”. The initiative encourages kids to identify potential risks and reach out to an adult without fear.

This movement is brought to life with subtle yet impactful on-air video series with the message – ‘Say No to fear and yes to safety’. The videos create awareness and call for kids to seek parental/ adult intervention when faced with any threat. Addressing the 3 most rampant issues of physical abuse, cyber safety and bullying, the videos created are light, sensitive and impactful. The initiative will also be brought alive online and on social through a high decibel digital plan that includes interactive posts, pledge posts, downloadables, championed by the kids’ favorite Nicktoons.  There will also be short videos by experts and child psychologists on safety tips.

Nickelodeon has associated with leading Non-Governmental Organization “Arpan” which specializes in empowering individuals and families with prevention and intervention skills required to respond to issues pertaining to child safety. The experts from Arpan will engage with kids in schools across the country through an interactive school contact programme. The school outreach will also include sessions that guide teachers and adults on how to manage issues of child safety. Nickelodeon has also partnered with Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai-education department to extend the school outreach programme across various Mumbai schools.

Commenting on this initiative, Nina Elavia Jaipuria, Business Head, Kids Entertainment Cluster at Viacom18 said, “We at Nickelodeon believe that children are the change agents of society. Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment. Through the Together for Good movement Nickelodeon has set out to sensitize kids and parents on the rampant problem of child safety issues. We believe that this initiative will give the kids the confidence to speak out and say, “no to fear and yes to safety”

“We are delighted to partner with Nickelodeon India for their initiative ‘Together for Good’. Arpan has, over its 10 years of working on prevention of child sexual abuse and healing from its impact, observed that if children are empowered with age-appropriate knowledge and skills they can participate in their own safety. Parents and caregivers, when empowered with knowledge, contribute to making an environment which is vigilant and protective for children. An initiative like this has the potential to provide key messages of personal safety to millions of children and parents with the support of Nickelodeon.” – Ms Sharalene Moonjely, Director – Public Engagement, Arpan

So log on to www.facebook.com/nickindia to join the movement

February 6, 2018

Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse is possible through Personal Safety Education – says Arpan’s report

Arpan is a leading NGO working on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse also marked its 10th anniversary today.

Caption for panel discussion photo – L to R, Pooja Taparia (Founder & CEO, Arpan), Dr. David Finkelhor (Director of Center for Crimes Against Children, New Hampshire University, USA), Javier Aguilar (Chief of Child Protection programs, Unicef India),  Rakesh Jhunjhunwala (Founder, Rare Enterprises),  Sonjoy Chatterjee (Chairman, Goldman Sachs India), Beatrice Bondy (Strategic Advisor to Mr. Karl-Johan Persson, CEO, H&M), Peter Kenyon (Director, The Marshall Foundation), Archana Chandra (CEO, Jai Vakeel, A.T.E. Chandra Philanthropic Foundation).

Arpan, a leading NGO working on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse launches a case study titled ‘Integration of Personal Safety Education Programme in Schools: A Case Study.’
Mumbai, 29th November 2017:  Child Sexual Abuse is a startling everyday reality for as many as half of the country’s children (Child Sexual Abuse Report 2007). 54.5% of total incest rape victims are children below 18 years (NCRBI 2015). Maharashtra reported maximum cases of crime against children which accounts for 14.8% of total such reported cases (NCRBI 2015). With the ever-increasing reports of child sexual abuse, we know that the scenario is not too different even today. Child Sexual Abuse can cause relationship issues, suicidal tendencies, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other psychological impacts. It can also result in significantly poorer academic performance, poorer mental and physical health, greater substance abuse and poorer parental relationships than their non-abused counterparts. There is, therefore, an urgent need to empower children with adequate knowledge, attitude and skills to prevent instances of Child Sexual Abuse as well as to seek support if an incident occurs. It is also important to create awareness with parents, teachers and school staff about child sexual abuse so that they can play an active role in the safety of children and provide a supportive environment to the child should there be any instance of abuse.

Arpan is a Mumbai based NGO that teaches personal safety skills to children in schools. Over the last 10 years, Arpan has taught over 75,000 children and adolescents and created awareness about Child Sexual Abuse amongst 57,000 parents and teachers through the Personal Safety Education Programme. Arpan has also trained teachers to integrate Personal Safety Education into their school curriculum so that children remember personal safety messages year on year and in an unsafe situation will report to a trusted adult. Bombay Cambridge Gurukul (BCG) Schools in Bombay integrated the Personal Safety Education (PSE) Programme in their curriculum in the year 2010 after being trained by Arpan. The teachers of these 5 schools themselves teach personal safety to children.

This research report, ‘Integration of Personal Safety Education Programme in Schools: A Case Study’ is an evaluation of the impact of integrating the Personal Safety Education Programme in the BCG group of Schools. The evaluation was conducted in the five schools of Bombay Cambridge Gurukul (BCG).  Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) were conducted with 152 children from 5 schools from 5th, 6th and 7th standards. Among these 152 children, individual interviews were conducted with 31 children. 5 headmistress and principals, 10 teachers (who conduct Personal Safety Education programme), 5 counsellors, 9 parents, CEO and Head of Dept - HRD were interviewed.

The key findings of the study were:
  • Children demonstrated increasing help-seeking behaviour as they identified unsafe situations, used refusal skills, and reported it to a trusted adult almost immediately. All 9 children (out of 31 children with whom the individual interview was conducted) who disclosed about past unsafe experiences in the study sought help from their trusted adults and were able to evolve a plan of action to ‘Get Away’ from the situation. In the Focused Group Discussions conducted with 152 children, all children were able to bring out an immediate response, an intermediary resolution and a long-term solution for unsafe situations that the protagonist faced in the assessment trope that was used to elicit responses. Children’s narratives of using refusal skills and accessing help are also substantiated by parents, teachers and counsellor's accounts.
  • The Management of schools of BCG developed a Child Protection Policy with a focus on responding to Child Sexual Abuse. The Child protection policy was child-friendly and responsive and showcases their knowledge on the issue of Child Sexual Abuse.
  • Children, across all groups, were comfortable about their body, knew that their body belonged to them and believed themselves to be active participants in ensuring their safety. They were comfortable with naming Private Body Parts and remembered the Personal Safety Rules/Guidelines.
  • Children recognised that Personal Safety Education inculcates them with skills to face ‘life’ as “PSE is about life”. Children shared their learnings with their siblings, cousins or friends or by leaving messages for other children through this evaluation.
  • Parents recognised Personal Safety Education Programme as age-appropriate, necessary and adequate. They were comfortable with the content and delivery of the programme. Parents identified the Personal Safety Education programme in aiding their communication with children on personal safety.
  • Teachers were well aware of signs and symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse and were proactive in responding to a child’s disclosure.
  • Teachers recognised Personal Safety Education Programme as a systematic age-appropriate model with adequate teachings aids and activities. It helped teachers to initiate dialogue on this issue in a non-threatening manner. It also helped to streamline the process of handling disclosures of Child Sexual Abuse.
  • Teachers had taken the learnings from the PSE classrooms and had created safe environments in their homes and personal spaces.

Ms. Pooja Taparia, Founder & Chief Executive of Arpan commented “Arpan has been a pioneer in evolving and conducting a holistic prevention and intervention school-based model, the Personal Safety Education programme. Over time we have seen that when schools take up the Personal Safety Education Programme and invest in it, it doesn’t just empower children with the necessary knowledge skills and attitude to prevent instances of Child Sexual Abuse but also empowers their caregivers like teachers and parents in supporting the child in case of any abuse. Given the increased reporting of child sexual abuse over the past few months and how safe schools are emerging as a need of the hour, it is heartening to see the results of the evaluation. It corroborates our belief that Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse is possible if we incorporate this critical life skill training in the school curriculum and if schools take ownership of teaching this to every child in their school.”

Dr. David Finkelhor - Director of Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New HampshireUSA, a renowned sociologist studying the problems of child victimization, child maltreatment and family violence since 1977, said, “Child Sexual Abuse is a global phenomenon, one that needs immediate attention. With studies showing 1 in 2 children in India experiencing some form of sexual abuse (Child Abuse Study 2007 by Government of India), it is critical that measures for prevention of child sexual abuse are taken up not just by the Government but also at the ground level by schools, communities and the society at large. Through my years of research, I have found that one of the primary strategies that are most effective in the prevention of child sexual abuse is school-based educational programmes. I am happy to see that this evaluation substantiates the effectiveness of school-based prevention programmes in the Indian context as well.”

Javier Aguilar (Chief of Child Protection programs, Unicef India) said “After so many efforts to respond to children in need of care and protection, we all need to complete this important work by strengthening prevention. Prevention is the best form of protection and school based programmes, one like Arpan is a promising way to take prevention forward.”

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, Founder, RARE Enterprises  a longstanding patron of Arpan said “I am very pleased to see the effectiveness of the Personal Safety Education programmes that Arpan is running in schools. I have supported this project since 8 years and I believe that the issue of Child Sexual Abuse needs to be addressed urgently. Children are the future of our country and investing in them is investing in the future of our country.”

About Arpan:
Arpan is an award-winning* organisation working hard to address the issue of Child Sexual Abuse in India. Arpan has won 6 National-level awards and 1 International award for its exemplary work. Based in Mumbai, Arpan is the largest NGO in India with over 85 social workers and counsellors providing prevention and intervention services to children and adults.

Mr. Rakesh Jhunjhunwala (R. Jhunjhunwala Foundation, India), Mr. Karl-Johan Persson (CEO, H&M Worldwide, Sweden), Goldman Sachs (India), Eros International Media (India), The Marshall Foundation (France), GMSP Foundation (UK), The Global Fund for Children (USA), Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (India), A.T.E and Chandra Philanthrpic  Foundation (India) are some of our key supporters year-on-year.
*Arpan won the India NGO National Award, 2011 , Jamnalal Bajaj Uchit Vyavahar Puraskar , 2011, Global NGO Excellence Award, 2015, Dasra Girl Power Award, 2015, “The Most Committed NGO” in Early Childhood Care and Education, 2017, Spirit of Humanity Award, 2017 for it's exemplary work in the social sector.  Arpan also won an international award, C. Henry Kempe Award by ISPCAN, for doing significant work in the area of Child Abuse.
To know more about Arpan, Log on to  www.arpan.org.in.

December 13, 2016

Arpan releases Training Kit for prevention of Child Sexual Abuse

Arpan Supporters & Pooja Taparia launch the Personal Safety Education Training Kit

Arpan launched the Personal Safety Education (PSE) kit for Class I-VI, on 1st December at YB Chavan Centre, Mumbai. The Kit is available in English, Hindi and Marathi.

The  Personal  Safety  Education  Training  Kit  is  a  culmination  of  Arpan’s  years  of  understanding  and experience of helping prevent child sexual abuse by increasing help seeking behavior amongst children and  making  adults  aware  of  their  role  in  keeping  children  safe.  It  is  a  feature  rich  set  of  tools  and instructional  guides  to  help  Teachers,  NGO  professionals,  Counselors  and  other  individuals  to  teach children Personal Safety skills.  This Kit will help School Authorities, Government and Institutional caregivers to spread the message of Safety to children, parents, teachers and the community at large, thus safeguarding children from sexual abuse.

Personal Safety Education Programme in Schools

Arpan’s flagship programme, the Personal Safety Education, aims at teaching children personal safety skills in schools, institutions and communities so that they can identify unsafe situations and seek help. It also empowers teachers, parents and adults with the appropriate knowledge, attitude and skills to prevent and deal with child sexual abuse and create a safe environment for children. 

Arpan also launched a video about it's Personal Safety Education Programme at the Event. You can watch it here.

Children's Panel at the Event

At the event, Arpan organized a Children's panel to hear what they had to say regarding the Personal Safety Education Programme. One of the children observed "On birthdays, girls would wear one piece dresses and come to school. Earlier the boys would pass comments and remarks at the girls, but after the PSE sessions the teasing stopped." Another student from grade 7 said "We should all have a PSE teacher in school so that we can know who to reach out to anytime."

Sonjoy Chatterjee - CEO, Goldman Sachs India & Achama Matthew - CEO, Bombay Cambridge Gurukul Schools

Arpan's supporters and donors were invited on stage to speak about their association with Arpan and their experiences. Sonjoy Chatterjee, CEO, Goldman Sachs India had this to say "It (Child Sexual Abuse) must be very difficult to bear on a day to day basis. That is the most important thing Arpan is helping achieve. Arpan looks at everybody in a very special way and helps create this feeling of comfort to bring about a change in emotions for a positive, better, fulfilling life." 

Achama  Matthew,  CEO,  Bombay  Cambridge  Gurukul  Schools shared "If Arpan hadn't walked in, I dont think BCG would be so concious and aware of what it means in terms of keeping children safe. And our reach has not just been the children, all our staff, parents which would probably mean almost 25,000 families. We are proud that Arpan walked in and we sustained our relationship with Arpan."

Principals Panel at the Event

Principals from schools who conducted the Personal Safety Education Programme were also invited to share their views and challenges about the programme and key takeaways about its impact. One of the principals shared " I feel children (who underwent PSE) have very high self esteem, they can express themselves very openly. I think that is a big achievement, not only from a point of view of abuse but all walks of life. They are aware that they can share their feelings openly and there are ways and means to get help when needed."

Personal Safety Education Training Kit in English, Hindi and Marathi

To get access to a Personal Safety Education Training Kit please write to us at resources[at]arpan[dot]org[dot]in

The Arpan Team after the successful launch of the Personal Safety Education Training Kit

March 12, 2015

Ms. Pooja Taparia - CEO & Founder, ARPAN interview on BBC Radio

Ms. Pooja Taparia - CEO & Founder, ARPAN was interviewed on BBC radio 9th March, 2015. Her views on the documentary film, " India's Daughter" were discussed and she spoke about the work done by Arpan's work.
It was aired from 19:30 to 22:00 (roughly around 20:15 UK time) on BBC radio 5 Live Hit List. 

The link to the interview http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b054p061#auto
Do listen to it 

February 6, 2015

ARPAN's work on Personal Safety Education featured in MoneyLife.in

Towards Freedom from Child Sexual Abuse
MONEYLIFE DIGITAL TEAM | 05/02/2015 12:36 PM 

Arpan, Pooja Taparia, Child Sexual Abuse
Personal Safety Education Program By ARPAN
Child sexual abuse is not even acknowledged as a reality by many, say trainers from Arpan who are trying to create awareness about this taboo subject

In  India, talking about sex and sexuality is still a taboo. Child sexual abuse (CSA) is not even acknowledged as a reality. People were shocked when Pooja Taparia started creating awareness about the issue. She is the founder of the NGO, Arpan, which started work in this area in 2007. It came into being with a team of just two or three people who started conducting awareness sessions, training various stakeholders like children, parents, teachers, civil society groups, clubs, etc.

Going back to her own early work in this field, Pooja recalls, “The inspiration to start working on the issue came when I watched a play on CSA and was deeply moved by it. The play depicted the trauma faced by a survivor of sexual abuse as she carries on with her life, makes decisions, develops relationships and the fears and crisis she experiences in her everyday life. The play shook me from the core. The understanding that children are violated (the violation of not only child’s body but the trust implicit in care-giving relationship) and the revelation that child sexual abuse can be psychologically traumatic and disturb a person’s everyday experience of self and others if not supported and healed at the appropriate time, unsettled me. So I decided to do something about it.”

Arpan evolved an effective two-pronged strategy—prevention and healing—to reduce the occurrence of CSA and heal its psychological, social, sexual and physical consequences. Its preventative programme is called ‘Personal Safety Education’ (PSE) and is the core programme. PSE is conducted in private, semi-private and government schools and institutions. The programme aims to empower children by imparting age-appropriate knowledge, information and skills related to personal safety and by building their self-esteem to prevent and protect them from sexual abuse. The programme also includes awareness and skill enhancement of adults like parents, teachers and institutional caretakers who are the primary stakeholders in a child’s life. These stakeholders are empowered with adequate information and skills about CSA so that they can create strong safety and support networks around children in their respective environments.

The second part of Arpan’s work is to provide psycho-therapeutic support to children who report cases of attempted and continued sexual abuse. Qualified psychologists work with survivors of CSA and their families to heal the trauma and impact they faced. “We work at various levels to help restore the child’s sense of self awareness, self-worth, create safe and supportive environment, stabilisation, help the child to process the trauma and reach re-integration,” says Pooja.

Over the past eight years, Arpan has reached out to over 22,000 children and adults directly through its training and capacity building programmes.

An anecdote narrated by a parent illustrates the effectiveness of Arpan’s efforts. “When an uncle tried to kiss my child who has borderline mental retardation, the child categorically said: ‘NO, do not kiss me. I will not allow’… I did not think the child would understand, you trained us and her takeaway is so high that now I am confident that she will be able to protect herself.” The child is just under four years old. Donations can be made in the name of Arpan by demand draft or cheque, payable in Mumbai. Donors will receive a receipt as well as the 80G certificate for income-tax exemption.

1st Floor, Delta Chemicals Pvt Ltd., 
J/1, Cama Industrial Zone, 
Off. Valbhatt Road, Goregaon East, 
Mumbai 400063, India.
Phone 022 2686 2444 / 2686 8444

November 6, 2014

Arpan's work on Therapeutic Help for Child Sexual Abuse Survivors

Silences and Safe Spaces: Therapeutic Help for Child Sexual Abuse Survivors

by Shreya Sen and the Therapeutic Intervention team at Arpan

Therapy for child sexual abuse survivors is an aspect often ignored when it comes to responding to abuse. However, therapy can help navigate the various trying circumstances a survivor faces, such as in the case of incest. Shreya Sen, with the Therapeutic Intervention team at Arpan, an organization that works to prevent child sexual abuse, talk about the various ways therapy can help heal.

Addressing an issue as prevalent as child sexual abuse is often a daunting task. The patriarchal structure of our society arpan logois such that those lower in the power hierarchy (in this case, on grounds of their age) are often faced with a greater risk of sexual violence. This structure also supports and perpetuates an environment of fear and silence around this issue; so much so that the idea of community honor has come to be strongly associated with it. As an organization working towards the prevention of child sexual abuse, one of our biggest struggles is to challenge this culture of shame and social stigma attached to it so that the victim-survivors of sexual violence, and their families, choose not to keep the abuse a secret for the fear of losing social standing.

This culture of silence is often internalized by the victims themselves. A lot of survivors talk about how difficult it was for them to disclose their abuse to their support systems because they felt ashamed and guilty about what happened to them. For survivors to be able to share their stories, it is imperative to create and acknowledge spaces with a safe, compassionate and supportive environment within their immediate surroundings (families, schools, neighborhoods, etc.). Thus, it is important to work towards greater awareness at a societal level, stressing on the wide, prevalent existence of child sexual abuse and how it ties into our social fabric. Persistent and unrelenting work on this would gradually take us towards the larger societal attitude changing in favor of being more acceptable and open to addressing the issue. Additionally, having an atmosphere where sexual abuse is openly talked about allows for survivors to share their stories with each other and build a support system that allows for disclosure in an empathetic space. Through our work, we have found that people often make their own disclosures after witnessing other survivors share their histories of abuse.

At the same time, it is also essential to increase access to safe spaces beyond immediate support systems. Counselling therapy and support is one such safe space that needs to be made available to survivors for their growth and healing. In the present social context, survivors usually have to cope within a dichotomy where their abuse is being either wholly dismissed and/or ignored, or their entire personhood is being built around their experience of abuse. Therapists work towards providing survivors with stable, secure, affirmative relationships which give them a space to feel the way they want to and to help them make meaning of their experiences in their journey of healing. Furthermore, therapists are able to help survivors recognize and acknowledge the significant and seemingly insignificant coping mechanisms that the survivors may have subconsciously adopted to rebuild their lives.

csa-inside-picUnfortunately, the stigma around child sexual abuse is matched by the prejudices against its impact on mental health. At our organization, we spend a lot of time addressing the anxieties of survivors and their families that makes them resistant to the idea of therapy. Educating guardians on the meaning and methods of counselling helps reduce some of the resistance since some of the myths and misconceptions they hold against therapy get addressed. For most people, therapy is not as important a form of intervention as some others like legal support or rescue and rehabilitation programmes. But counseling/therapy is often one of the most productive way of helping survivors cope within their existing situation. For instance, in some cases of incest, the abuser may be the primary care taker of the child upon whom the child is dependent for his/her financial, physical and even emotional needs. In such cases, the survivor’s sense of helplessness and loss of control gets further reinforced because they see no escape from their situation. Here, once again, the therapist is able to empower the survivor by helping them recognize and implement their own coping mechanisms, while also being able to strengthen alliances with other trusted/helpful adults (such as a non-offending parent, a teacher, a neighbor, etc.) who can support the child and ensure a greater degree of safety for the child.

It is crucial to acknowledge the short-term and long-term mental health impacts that sexual abuse can have on a child. Trauma, in the context of sexual abuse, can be all pervasive and it may (or may not) affect various aspects of an individual’s life. To what extent it will affect someone depends on several parameters such as the age of the child, available resources, support systems, severity of abuse, relationship with the abuser and so on. The relationship established between the therapist and the survivor can often become one of the first truly egalitarian space for the survivor to regain a sense of power and control. Therapy helps survivors overcome their guilt by attributing accountability of the abuse to the perpetrator instead. Additionally, therapists can help survivors cope with issues like depression and anxiety by helping them set long term goals and envision a life beyond and outside of the abuse.

Children need to be respected, heard, spoken to (softly, openly, honestly). Their curious questions need to be answered creatively, genuinely and playfully. They believe in us and expect that we believe them in return. These are some harbingers of a relationship that the child will treasure forever! If we were to think of a child being violated of her/his basic integrity like in sexual abuse, respect, belief in the child, communicating with them openly/honestly, making them feel heard and understood become more important than ever before. These can be overwhelming times not only for the child but for their entire support system.  A therapist who is trained in work with children and families on this issue can be a person to validate collective feelings of concern, help the family navigate through this challenging patch and make visible the strength, resilience and hope, which was always present, but is now shaken up due to such trying times! We always urge guardians to never hesitate to access help – it is only a measure of the hopes and dreams that they have for themselves and their children.

This article was written by Shreya Sen and the ‘Therapeutic Intervention’ team at ArpanArpan is an NGO in Mumbai that works towards the prevention of child sexual abuse and providing therapeutic assistance to those affected by it. They also run a counselling helpline for child and adult survivors of child sexual abuse and their support systems. The helpline can be accessed on +91 98190-86444.