Are you outraged by the horrific daily accounts of children being sexually abused? Sickened by the gruesome statistics? Do you wish you, personally, could do something to prevent it? If you are (or know) a woman, 18 years or older, in Mumbai, undergraduate, strong communication skills in English and Hindi and, either Marathi or Gujarati, as well as some time to spare, you can start changing those dismal statistics right away by volunteering for CHILDLINE’s Child Sexual Abuse Awareness initiative.
CHILDLINE staff and partners will train you in simple, story-telling methods and equip you with material that introduce children in classes 2-6 to the concepts of safe and unsafe touch and Personal safety rules they can follow. You will receive a token honorarium (certificate and experience letter) for your work. More importantly, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a vital contribution towards stemming the tide of sexual crimes against our children.
We have a new Protection of Children from Sexual Offences law. NGOs and state authorities in many parts of the country are taking steps to better prevent, detect and address violations. The media pays more attention to the issue. And parents are increasingly vigilant. But our strongest defence against these crimes is children who are aware of the risks and empowered to protect themselves. Our children need to know what sexual abuse is and what they can do when threatened by an abuser. In a society where many, if not most, adults are diffident about discussing the issue, too many children suffer in silence due to lack of awareness, shame or fear. You can help change that.
This is not an easy task and it demands a significant commitment of time. But if, like Nelson Mandela, you believe that “We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear" and are willing to take on the responsibility of doing so, CHILDLINE will provide the knowledge, skills and support to help you realise that goal.
CHILDLINE is India’s only dedicated, national helpline for children in distress. It brings the experience of 17 years, millions of successful interventions and specialist expertise to this initiative. Register for the programme at: http://www.childlineindia.org.in/volunteer-for-childline.htm or share this with other potential volunteers. Together, we’ll reach a million children across Mumbai this school year. And, resources permitting roll the programme out to other cities and districts soon.
*Ingrid Srinath is the Executive Director of CHILDLINE India Foundation.